Mise en place. A French cooking term meaning "everything in its place," it's one of the most important foundations of an efficient and functional kitchen. The principle is simple: Be prepared.
Whenever you plan to work in the kitchen, keep these few steps in mind:
- Read the recipe: Read the recipe first, in its entirety. Think about the ingredients and tools you'll need to have on hand, and make sure you're comfortable with all of the techniques mentioned in the method before you begin.
- Gather, prepare and organize: Once you've read the recipe, gather together your ingredients and tools, measuring out the proper quantities and preparing each ingredient (blanching, slicing, mincing, sifting) so it's ready to be used. Organize your ingredients in the order in which they'll be used, and clean as you go.
While these steps may sound simple, I can't emphasize how helpful they are, especially when you're preparing a recipe for the first time. Nothing can be more stressful for a cook than having to search for an ingredient in the middle of a recipe, or failing to have the proper equipment on hand at the right moment (like a strainer or an ice bath). A little preparation can make things so much more simple -- and fun -- when you're in the kitchen.