Read the recipe before getting started.
This gives you a lay of the land. You can anticipate steps that are approaching and organise in advance. You also know how long it will take to prepare and cook/bake – I have been caught out too many times by unexpectedly long bake times when I had planned to leave the house or be doing something else by that point!
Have a helper.
If you need to get something right the first time it can be a lot of help to have someone helping. They can mix, while you focus on the sauce, or pull ingredients out of the pantry whilst you check the chicken. Delegate! Give your brain space to understand the recipe and to direct, whilst your assistant does the muscle work – I’m sure they will be happy to help for a slice of what you are making!
Follow the recipe.
I am not one to stick meticulously to a recipe, I often tweak, exchange or ‘estimate’ ingredient quantities. If you are making something tricky for the first time and you want it to be perfect you do not have time for this! The key to manipulating a recipe is understanding what each ingredient contributes to the flavour, texture and chemistry of the dish. If this is the first time, then you do not understand that yet! – No matter how well experienced otherwise.
Give yourself plenty of time.
This has been touched on, but honestly you don’t want to rush this. No one likes being stressed. If possible make it on the weekend.
Have a good time and be nice to you!
Your biscuits are overcooked and overworked? You just made biscotti! Dip that in your coffee and you are good to go. Burnt that sugar? It just adds flavour! Turkey dry? More sauce please!
Approach cooking with good humour + respect and all will be fine. Much like a printer, your kitchen can smell fear – and misbehaves only when you aren’t feeling confident. So loosen those shoulders and go have some culinary fun!