Cooking from recipes requires having on hand not only the proper ingredients but also the right equipment for the job. Before getting started, make sure to read your recipes through to the end. Need a fine-mesh sieve for straining your bechamel or a candy thermometer for testing your fudge? It's useful to know that ahead of time.
Scan the recipe for any cooking terms with which you're not familiar. It's much easier to find out what a tranche is before you begin, rather than when the leeks are sizzling in the skillet and you're in a hurry to cut your salmon. (Tranche, by the way, is a French term referring to a portion of protein—be it fish, poultry, or meat—that's been cut at an angle to expose more surface area.)
Don't be afraid to rearrange the steps of a recipe to make it work for you. Depending on the amount of time you have or your kitchen setup, you may find it practical to do some steps before others. If your instinct says to start steaming the rice while the flank steak is still searing, don't hesitate to take control of the process. _