You probably know how long it takes your oven to heat up, but many of us overlook the amount of time it can take a pan on the stove to get hot enough to, say, sear a steak. The rushing cook's strategy is usually to turn the burner on high, place a cast-iron pan on top and hope that within a minute or two it'll be ready for the meat. But Brooklyn Kitchen’s Warner says a flaming blast for two minutes will just heat the center of the pan. Carrie Bradley, who oversees classes at the Chopping Block
in Chicago, agrees and notes that heating a pan abruptly can damage it. Instead, put the pan over a low to medium flame as soon as you get in the kitchen so it can warm up while you prep your ingredients (and Warner says cast-iron pans are sturdy enough that you can even wait 20 minutes before adding ingredients).