Lifting flavor


Welcome to my little corner of culinary delights.  There is a lot I can teach you on creating your own recipes, but not everyone would find this interesting.  I must have self-control and only give one more article on this subject.

With your milder forms of primary foods, there is a real need to lift their flavor.  Whereas herbs and spices need to be used sparingly in one instant, they may need to be strong in another.  If you have paid a lot of money for a porterhouse steak and it is done to perfection, you would not want to hide its natural flavors under a lot of seasonings.  On the other hand, if you have a hamburger, you might want to smother it with salt, ketchup, mustard, onion and pickle slices.  By the same token, making chili with hamburger, you might want a lot of seasons including strong chili powder and hot sauce.  Don’t forget the beer and crackers on the side.  If you make beef stroganoff, again, you would want to be easy on the seasonings.  You would follow this format for any entrée you decide to create.

For another example, your aromatic vegetables can stand alone.  In knowing their characteristics, you would also know of their special qualities.  Such things as carrots and parsnips have natural sugars.  This sweet taste does not appear until a certain amount of heat is applied.  The heat rearranges the molecular chain and sugar forms and caramelizes.  It is then that the sweet taste appears.  By knowing this, you might try baking your vegetables to reach that point and then add them to a hot stock for producing that special extra flavor.  Try throwing in some basil impregnated noodles you made and sautéed onions.

With your primary foods being mild, such as chicken, turkey and fish, there are many dishes you can invent using various cooking techniques, herbs, spices, and seasoning.  Remember that lemon is in the category of strong and sour.  Try lemon zest on some of this mild stuff.  Try rendering vinegar or wine.  They have that acidic flavor lift for mild or bland items.  Always remember to, work at balancing the flavors while maintaining their individuality.  In other words, maintain a differential taste and not a homogeneous one.  Always remember that a little is a lot with herbs and spices.

In making gravy the old Midwestern farm way, it is the bacon or pork fat that gives it its flavor lift.  Have you ever tried tasting just a flour and milk mixture?  Béchamel is basically just that, flour and milk with oil.  By using a little salt and white pepper along with a splash of Worcestershire sauce and a pinch or two of nutmeg makes a big difference.  Yes, as you cook, notice closely how combinations complement each other.  Sometimes, it only takes a drizzle of this or a pinch of that to produce a heavenly difference.

Until next time, peace to all.

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