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Never Catch a Falling Knife: 20 Tips for the Home Cook From Chef Frank Bonanno

On the House is Eater's column that goes behind the scenes of the restaurant business, written by the owners, operators, chefs and others who make our favorite establishments tick. Today, Frank Bonanno, chef and restaurateur who operates several restaurants including Mizuna, Luca d'Italia, and Osteria Marco, shares his advice for home cooks.

BonannoHouse.pngSunday morning at home, the knife went cartwheeling out of my hands. These things happen. I leapt away from the spinning blade, and my wife laughed. She'd have tried to catch the knife, she said. Our breakfast conversation, and ultimately this list, was born.

Twenty Pieces of Cooking Wisdom for the Home Chef:

Don't fry bacon in the nude.

Get a good toaster oven and throw away the microwave. You don't need that Hot Pocket (or anything else that heats up in plastic).

Keep your knives sharp and you won't cut yourself.

Conversely, never catch a falling knife.

You rarely need high heat to cook.

Use butter and salt if you want food to taste good. Worried about the consequences? Exercise.

Scrambled eggs: low flame, splash of milk, salt, butter.

Always aim to use fresh herbs. Freeze extras in olive oil.

Speaking of freezing, whole ginger root does so nicely, It's also easier to microplane frozen - less fibrous.

Speaking of microplane, that's a heck of a tool—for garlic, lemon zest, parmesan.

Don't use a wet towel to handle a hot pan.

Revisit the classics: Pot Roast, Meatloaf, Roasted Chicken—if for no other reason than your whole house will smell wonderful.

Remember to bake a potato occasionally. Potato bars are crowd pleasers.

Cast iron skillet.

Don't follow a recipe exactly (unless you're baking). Improvise. If you're looking for a place to start, Alton Brown is reliable and thorough.

I promise: if you add a hunk of salt—1/4 cup —to your pasta water, the pasta will be so flavorful you may not need sauce. Less than 10% of the salt from the water is actually absorbed by the pasta. ("Salty like the sea," as the saying goes.)

French press for coffee. Insulated, not glass (Ikea).

Peanut oil for frying; vegetable oil for sautéing; olive oil for finishing.

Sometimes, set the table just for you: water glass, stemware, flatware polished and placed on linen. Sparkling plates. Candles. The setting elevates the meal.

If you make it well at home, don't order it in a restaurant.

· Chef Broening on What Employees Should Know About Owners and Owners About Employees [EDen]
· Yasu Kizaki of Sushi Den on Sourcing Fish From the Japanese Fish Market [EDen]
· Justin Cucci on the Three Words of 2012 [EDen]
· John Broening of Spuntino on Originality and Copyrights in the Food Business [EDen]


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Luca D'Italia

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