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L.A. Times Test Kitchen tips: Mise en place

February 15, 2011 |  5:44 pm

Photo 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. There are just a few steps to keep 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.
  • 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). Be prepared.

If you have any kitchen tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or shoot me an e-mail at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

-- Noelle Carter
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Photo: The glass and rubber cups pictured above are handy for holding spices and prepared ingredients until they're ready to go in a recipe, and can be found at many major markets and cooking supply stores. Photo credit: Noelle Carter.