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The Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten, is stopping by the TODAY kitchen to share top techniques, pro tips and tasty recipes from her new book "Cook Like a Pro: Recipes and Tips for Home Cooks." She shows us how to make a classic daiquiri cocktail, a chocolate and pecan meringue torte, tomato and eggplant soup and hearty short rib has with eggs.
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Ina's Pro Cooking Tips:
1. Limes at room temperature give more juice than cold ones. Roll the while limes on a board with the heel of your hand before squeezing them to release more juice.
Classic cocktails never go out of style. The fresh citrus and subtle sweetness of a traditional daiquiri are always in fashion.
2. To make chocolate curls, place a bar of chocolate in the microwave for 15 seconds before shaving it with a vegetable peeler.
When my late friend Anna Pump came to the United States from Germany, she started a cooking school in New Jersey, where she lived. This is one of the recipes she taught her students. It's two disks of crisp and soft meringue, layered with a creamy chocolate pecan filling. Your guests will be very impressed that you served such a professional-looking dessert!
3. To cut eggplant and other round vegetables, first cut them in half lengthwise, then place each half flat side down on the board before you cut it. The vegetable will be more stable and easier to cut without a trip to the hospital.
You'll find all the flavors of a good marinara sauce in this substantial soup, along with the smoky richness of roasted eggplant. As an added bonus, the leftovers can become the base for baked pasta the next day.
4. To cut onions or shallots neatly, cut them in half and peel them, leaving the root end intact before slicing, chopping, or mincing. Otherwise you’ll have onions all over your cutting board.
5. If you sauté onions in a large pot that has a lot of bottom surface right on the heat, they will cook more quickly and caramelize better than if you put them in a small pot where all they will do is steam in the oil or butter.
This is a very flexible recipe made with potatoes, bacon and onions. I've used leftover short ribs, but you can substitute brisket, roast beef, pulled pork, kielbasa or ham plus vegetables like broccoli and kale. It's a great way to clean out the fridge and have an amazing breakfast at the same time!
6. Hard boil an egg 6 minutes for "soft" and 8-10 minutes for "hard." Then splash the eggs with cold water to cool them off and prevent overcooking. To peel the eggs easily, while they are still semi-warm, lightly hit eggs with a spoon, and then peel off pieces.