Any advice from Chopped judge and celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli is advice we should all follow in the kitchen. And in a recent interview with Taste of Home, Guarnaschelli had one surprising — and effective — cooking tip you only wish you’d known sooner.
Basically, when faced with a cooking disaster, Guarnaschelli’s trick involves the most basic of ingredients: water.
“You know while you’re cooking stuff and things are overly brown and things are spinning out of control, a splash of water [will help],” Guarnaschelli said.
For instance, if your sauce is too thick and it’s boiling away, add a splash of water.
“If your chocolate sauce or your hot fudge is separating because it’s too much cream or butter in it, a splash of water will fix it,” she continued.
Guarnaschelli also spilled on her go-to pantry items: vinegar, honey and — wait for it — Dijon mustard. “Life is not life without Dijon mustard,” she said.
As far as honey goes, she said she keeps a jar in her kitchen because just a tiny bit of honey can help balance out anything overly bitter or overly spicy, including sauces, vinaigrettes and meat.
“I think it’s just a great fixer of things,” she said, adding that vinegar is great to add on salads or on broccoli.
In short, Guarnaschelli advises you channel your inner Michael Scott and KISS — keep it simple, stupid.
“I just think that however simple you think dinner is going to be, if you’re getting it on the table yourself, that’s three-quarters of the battle in my book,” she said.
And that includes cleanup.
This is where Guarnaschelli’s love for baking sheets comes in. She swears by them for two reasons: Making family meals on busy weeknights is a breeze, and they leave very little cleanup.
“I think that minimizing the amount of time you do the dishes is critical,” she said. “I just line a baking sheet with parchment. And if a higher temperature cooking is involved, I just skip the parchment and I just use aluminum foil.”
She added that one of her favorite sheet pan dinners include chicken thighs with an onion medley seasoned with some olive oil, salt, pepper and a dash of curry or cumin.