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From dinner to dessert, Ina makes it easy.

Adam Campbell-Schmitt
April 23, 2018

We were more than stoked when Ina Garten announced a new season of Barefoot Contessa would be coming our way. With her simple-yet-elegant recipes, no-fuss entertaining shortcuts, and useful technique tips, watching Garten gives us a sense of both proactive know-how and relaxed bliss. The current season of Barefoot Contessa: Cook Like a Pro has been a treasure trove of Ina’s wisdom, sometimes revolutionary and sometimes just a solid reminder of tried and true approach. Here are the best tips we gleaned from every episode (so far!).

Episode 1: Parmesan

  • Want big curls of Parmigiano Reggiano? Use a vegetable peeler.
  • Roast sausages before attempting to slice, then add to a pasta, sauce, or soup.
  • Avoid pre-shredded parmesan. you never know what you’re actually getting. (It’s true! Sometimes it’s wood pulp.)

Episode 2: Make-Ahead Breakfast

  • Microwave sliced prosciutto for a couple of seconds and it will lift off of the paper so much easier
  • For baked goods that require both oil and honey (like this honey cake with citrus frosting), pour the oil from the measuring cup first, then use the same cup to measure and pour the honey and it will slide right out.
  • Muffin batter can be kept in the fridge until you’re ready to use it, so you’ve got fresh-baked muffins when you need them.

Episode 3: No Sides Required

  • Yes, salad can be the main course. Just make sure your ingredients are large and distinct. Ina cuts her bacon into one-inch pieces along with big cubes of roasted chicken breast and avocado for a tossed cobb salad in this episode.
  • Speaking of salad, when slicing cherry tomatoes cut the through the middle of the stem. They look symmetrical and less haphazard than just slicing them any old way.

Episode 4: Bread Winners

  • Line the bottom of your cheeseboard with giant fig leaves. It looks like a work of classical art.
  • Sprinkle breadcrumbs between layers of phyllo dough for savory applications. It makes for an even flakier result.
  • To get the fronds of your fresh dill off of the stem, hold the bunch pointing downward and run your knife blade lightly along the stem toward the tip. You’ll be left with all the fresh, soft little leaves on your cutting board.

Episode 5: Good Vanilla

  • For pound cakes or other sweet loaves, grease your bread pan and dust with turbinado sugar to add an extra crunchy, sweet layer to the outside.
  • Make your own vanilla extract (just beans and vodka in a jar left at room temperature for a few months). You can snip the tips off of the saturated beans and squeeze the seeds in your baking. Oh, and keep it going—Ina’s been replenishing the same batch of vanilla extract for 30 years.
  • Allow a pint of good vanilla ice cream melt. Voila! You’ve got a pint of créme anglaise.

Episode 6: Tipsy Desserts

  • When flavoring sauces and syrups with cloves, fashion a little satchel of cheesecloth to contain them so they’re easy to fish out before serving.
  • A scoop of ice cream, a scoop of sorbet, pour over some vodka and—boom!—you’ve got dessert.

Episode 7: Simply French

  • Ina's all about making things ahead of time when you can. For salad, if you pour the dressing into the bottom of the bowl then throw the greens on top, you can just toss it all together at the last minute without getting the leaves soggy.
  • Use dental floss to slice goat cheese. (Food & Wine culinary director Justin Chapple approves!)
  • When throwing a lunch or casual gettogether, make two things, buy one (a dessert is always a good option for the latter).

Episode 8: American Classics

  • When grilling steak, create a hot side and cool side of the grill by putting the charcoal to one side. Then you can sear on the hotter side and move the steaks to the cooler side and cover the grill to cook fully.
  • Wedge salads take on a whole new dimension when you slice the head of lettuce into rounds instead of wedges.
  • Toss a sliced jalapeño into your buttermilk brine for fried chicken to add an extra kick.
  • New episodes of "Barefoot Contessa: Cook Like a Pro" air Sundays at 12 p.m. on Food Network.

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