Over the years I have learned what suits my tastes and works well when preparing recipes. Below are some of my tips:
Butter – Use Unsalted Sweet Cream Butter unless the recipe calls for salted.
Cooking Wine – Yes, grocery stores sell something by this name, but please don’t buy it. If you won’t drink it from a glass, don’t cook with it!
Garlic – Don’t use the minced garlic that comes in a jar; you are compromising on flavor! Invest in a good garlic press and buy a fresh head of garlic and store it in an open dish next to your spices.
Lemon, Lime, Orange Rind – If a recipe calls for one of these, use the real thing. A microplane grater works really well for giving you very fine strands of rind so that the flavor is an appealing accent and doesn’t overtake the recipe.
Non-Stick Pans – DO NOT use cooking spray on non-stick pans. Trust me on this one, I have ruined two pans before I learned the proper way to use these. Add a pat of butter or olive oil depending on what you are cooking and you won’t have any issues with sticking and your pan will last for years.
Cracking an Egg – This may sound basic and silly, but when a recipe calls for an egg, crack it open in its own bowl before adding it to the rest of the ingredients. A piece of shell or one egg that is tinted red will cure you from cracking the egg directly into the batter!
Grease/Flour Cake Pan – When baking I highly recommend greasing and flouring the pan versus using a cooking spray. It makes a difference in the texture of your recipe. Purchase Crisco Baking Sticks (I know, I know, but it really is the best and you use so little!). Peel off a little of the paper on the end and run the stick across the bottom and sides of your pan. Then smooth it out with your fingers. Sprinkle a couple of teaspoons of flour and gently tap the pan, spreading the flour completely over the bottom and sides then tap out the excess into the trash.