Westchester Home Cooks’ Top Tips, Hints, and Ideas

Our amazing amateur chefs dish out everything you need to know to get cooking.

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It Happens to the Best of Us:
Everyday Cooks’ Biggest Mistakes

“Trying to make too many dishes to be served together that all need attention at the same time—like risotto that needs constant stirring with a filet mignon that needs watching and cutting.” – Lisa Ocasio

“Trying to make their meals look like they just came out of Martha Stewart’s test kitchen.  Family, friends, and guests appreciate the time and effort you’ve made to prepare a home-cooked meal and they’re not going to judge or even notice if you don’t garnish a platter or if your silverware doesn’t match.” – Elly Kelly

“Relying on prepared/packaged goods. If you plan, you can make great food in no time. And it won’t include any preservatives or weird ingredients you can’t pronounce.” – Gina M. Larson-Stoller

“Not understanding heat—either using too low of a heat and not getting a good brown sear or too much heat and burning the outside without cooking the inside. Also, not patting food dry well before searing it. The extra water will steam the food instead of giving it good color and flavor.” – Mike Zollner

“Forgetting that preparation is two-fold—the taste and the presentation.” – Susan C. Beer

“Over-seasoning. Seasoning should accentuate the primary ingredient, not hide it.” — Todd Stankiewicz

“Not treating each meal like it’s special. Whether it’s throwing together a quick 10-minute skillet meal or preparing a three-course dinner for a special occasion, if you are going to cook, put in a little extra effort to make it delicious.”  — Wendy Pregiato

 ► Plus:

Gina M. Larson-Stoller, Cortlandt Manor
Wendy Pregiato, Eastchester
Brian Murdock, Mohegan Lake
Elly Kelly, Tarrytown
Susan C. Beer, Bedford/Pound Ridge
Lisa Ocasio, Cortlandt Manor
Mike Zollner, Port Chester
Todd A. Stankiewicz, Tarrytown