30 Days, 30 Ways to Be a Better Cook

Whether you're an absolute beginner in the kitchen or an experienced cook searching for new grains of wisdom, our expert tips will help you be a better cook in no time (31 Photos)

Lia Wiedemann on Apr 23, 2013 at 11:58PM

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30 Days, 30 Ways to Be a Better Cook

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Have High-Quality Olive Oil and Vinegar on Hand

To make great vinaigrettes on the spot, Vazquez likes to to have a selection of vinegars such as champagne, red wine and apple cider on hand as well as an inexpensive and more expensive olive oil. “For an inexpensive olive oil, I look for something light and neutral in flavor for everyday cooking and sautéing. These olive oils are great for pasta and sautéing vegetables. I don't typically buy extra virgin or the darkest olive oil for this purpose because when cooked, they can give off a 'bitter' flavor.” Vazquez says the Whole Foods 365 brand and Kirkland brand from Costco are a great value. “When I want to invest in a more expensive olive oil, I look for something with more flavor that I want to dip my crusty bread into, or drizzle on my caprese salad,” she says. “Colavita extra virgin is an excellent choice for its light body but briny and fruity flavor.”

Giosia is adamant about buying high quality balsamic. But before buying a bottle, make sure it contains grape must, freshly pressed grape juice that’s also referred to as “mosto cotto”. “If the ingredients label doesn’t list it, it isn’t real balsamic,” she says. “Chances are it’s just red wine vinegar that’s been artificially thickened and flavored.”

To create your own vinaigrette, play around with different combinations of oil and vinegar and incorporate others ingredients including chopped shallots or garlic, freshly squeezed citrus and mustard. To balance the acidity, try adding a little honey or a sprinkle of sugar.

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