Scattered throughout Jacques Pépin's new book, Fast Food My Way, are brief sidebars with tips and suggestions intended to speed prep time ("The custards can be baked a day in advance") or dispense a kernel of kitchen wisdom ("winter lobsters tend to be heavier, with more juicy meat than summer ones").
One sidebar in particular -- on warming plates -- was a (minor) revelation. "We all know that hot food stays hot much longer when served on warmed plates," writes Mr. Pépin. He's right, but truth be told, I very rarely do this. Whether it's forgetfulness, laziness, or maybe a subconscious way of editing down the number of steps in a recipe, I almost never take the step of turning on the oven just to warm plates. But, Mr. Pépin shares a shortcut, suggesting the use of a microwave oven to accomplish the task, noting that his friend Jean-Claude Szurdak will microwave a stack of four to six plates on high for one and a half to two minutes before plating a meal. This tip may not be a surprise to many of you, but it's never crossed my mind before. It just may make me a plate-warming convert.