Food Basics

Always stock your kitchen with the following ingredients: Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, mustard, honey, salt, pepper, Italian spices, fresh vegetables and fruits like tomatoes or spinach, blackberries and apples or frozen vegetables that you can steam in the microwave.

You can buy chicken cutlets, steaks and fish filets fresh and then freeze them until you’re ready to use them.

If you’re worried about the fish being too fragrant, soak it in milk as it defrosts. To defrost any piece of meat, take it out of the freezer the morning you’d like to cook it and let it defrost. To speed up the process, soak it in hot water, according to Chef Tom Pappa, who owns a catering business in Ormond Beach, Fl.