"I want people to realize that braising only takes about 15 minutes of your time; the rest of the time, the food is in the oven. Because a homemade cake is so much better than one from a mix, someone might be willing to make the extra effort to bake one," she says.

"The little things make a big difference, like chopping your own garlic, squeezing juice from a real lemon, mixing a little orange juice and melted butter into maple syrup for pancakes, and making real hot chocolate, which is so easy and so special."

Rori, the author of Dishing with Style, believes it's important to set a pleasing table. When she makes a meal, she aims to fill the plates with color and texture as well as flavor. She wants the food to be memorable and explosively exciting, she says, and yet she prefers to keep it simple. "I really don't like overmanipulated food," she says.

Her recipes are designed to expand home cooks' abilities without "scaring them." Her advice is always practical (don't try something new for a dinner party; give it a trial run first), but her expectations and enthusiasm are inspiring.

"Once you learn a few things, your whole experience in the kitchen will be more rewarding," she promises.

Rori Trovato's Recipes
Excerpted from O, The Oprah Magazine Cookbook. Copyright © 2008 Hearst Communications, Inc. Published by Hyperion. All Rights Reserved. Available wherever books are sold and online via


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