5 Useful Rules to Make Your Food Shine
Summer is almost here, and with it the season for fresh and wonderful food. Many people love to cook for their friends and family, but need to follow a recipe to the letter, and feel uncomfortable changing it. Some people try to make their own recipes, but can't make their food taste as good as they want. We watch people in our lives cooing without seeming to think, they just float through the kitchen or the market, making all the right decisions, and we have no idea how they do it. With these simple rules I am going to help you make the most of what is available, without having to follow a recipe at every step of the way.
Credit for intro Image: flickr.com/
Note: The pictures I have used link to articles and sites you might find useful
Keep It Simple
The easiest way to ruin a dish is to over-complicate it. You want your food to have depth, but you still want people to know what they are eating, the depth is accomplished by other elements in your food, not by using a million ingredients or techniques that you don't know.
Food Should Be Fun
Use The Best Ingredients
What defines the best is going to change depending on the type of food, but it does not always mean the most expensive.
For vegetables, you want the freshest ingredients that are picked ripe. The best way to accomplish this is by growing your own or going to a farmers market. Supermarket Vegetables are generally picked green and transported long distances, which compromises the flavour and texture.
For meats, there is going to be some difference of opinion. I would advise seeking the advice of your butcher, as they will know their products the best.
Be sure that you are using the right ingredient for its purpose, for example, the best Extra Virgin Olive Oil is great for most cold foods, or to add after cooking, but you don't want to cook with it as heating it up brings out bitter aspects of the oil.
You should never have to hide any aspect of your ingredients!
If you have trouble imagining what will go together well, or are just looking for new combinations to try, this is a great book to try. This is not a book of recipes, but a guide helping you create your own Masterpieces.
Fat is Flavour
i know you don't want to hear this, but the more fat there is in your food, the more flavorful it will be. However, going back to the previous rule, the better quality the fat is, the better your food will taste. A little butter goes a lot farther than a lot of oil. If you are cooking meats you want to seal in the natural fats instead of trying to add more, you can do this simply by searing the outside at a high heat and then turning the heat down (This works for almost anything on a grill, including fish).
To add flavour to cold dishes, generally good quality oils are better, such as nice olive oil over fish or in a salad dressing. Keep in mind that most oils retail the flavour of the vegetable that was used to make it to some degree, so use something that will complement the rest of your food. Feel free to experiment, everybody had preferences, and there are many forms of fat to choose from.
In other words, don't serve anything you wouldn't eat. By tasting your food at every step of the way, you avoid surprises. You know exactly what you are serving, and you have lots of time to fix mistakes.
No One is Born A Great Cook, One Learns By Doing
Don't Be Afraid To Season!
Seasoning usually means salt, but it doesn't have to. There are a lot of things you can use to enhance flavour without overpowering it. Fresh herbs are a good way to enhance almost anything. You can also use lemon juice, or chili flakes. Both sour and heat open up your taste buds, which allows other flavours to be enjoyed more easily. Be careful though, if you use to much of anything, including salt, it could become a main ingredient of your dish and dramatically change the character of your food.