Cook Like a Pro

A chef’s five top tips



Chef Cara Tannenbaum has built an impressive culinary track record: owner of Quarropas Restaurant in White Plains (1986 to 1995), founder of Cara Tannenbaum Catering in Somers, pastry and baking instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan. Here, she shares her five top cooking tips.

1) Salt as you go. “Don’t be afraid to taste something while you are cooking it, and adjust the seasoning accordingly. I am a big believer in kosher salt because of the way it melts into food and tastes, but any brand will do.”

2) Use fresh herbs instead of dried ones. “They taste so much better.”

3) Use a sharp knife. “It saves physical wear and tear on your shoulder, elbow, and hand, and it is so much safer than a dull knife,” Tannenbaum says. “Hold a chef’s knife in the classic ‘shake hands with your tennis racquet’ move. You want to then choke up on the handle until it is comfortable, but don’t point your finger out and rest it on top of the blade—it may feel like control, but it isn’t.”

4) Heat your sauté pan. “When sautéing meat or fish, heat your pan before adding the oil or butter. Then heat the oil or butter before adding the protein, which helps brown the outside of the meat and add extra flavor to the final dish.”

5) Preheat the oven. “A cold oven will stop or hinder the cooking process, and can ruin the dish.”