Some cooks can take the worst collection of ingredients and with a little stirring, a little simmering and apparently a little magic make it taste good. Conversely there are other cooks that can take the best foods, and with a lot of spilling and even more swearing serve up food that should not be given to the family dog. So, is it the food or the method that either makes or breaks a meal?
Well, it could be one or all three actually. Or it could be none of the above. Some people have a natural gift for cooking. I think personally that it has a lot to do with your role models when you grow up. A lot of people that have had great experiences in the kitchen with someone they admire or respect can have a big impact on your culinary expertise in your adult years. Those that had very little experience or positive role modeling in that particular area may not have a desire or interest in cooking and therefore struggle with knowing how to “throw” together a good meal without much preparation and detailed recipes. But what some don’t understand is that there are certain ingredients that do not blend well together in particular methods of preparation, like the kind of pan you use or whether you bake it verses cooking it on the stove-top. You may not know this if you are an inexperienced cook.
Timing can be the key to how well the recipe turns out as well. Take a dish called “Lemon Infused Broccoli” for instance. It is a tasty little dish if you don’t add in the lemon too early in the cooking process. If you do, you will notice that the broccoli will turn a very peculiar shade of brown. But, adding the lemon to the water while steaming the broccoli in a steamer and tossing in some lemon zest when before serving and you will have a tasty and colorful (the right color) broccoli dish.
You can also liven up the most boring of vegetables too like peas. They are a dull and tasteless vegetable on their own but adding some pearl onions and garlic to the mix when cooking and voila, you have a tasty alternative to your usual vegetable side-dish.
Sometimes you’ll find that some food selections will require a gentle touch with your cooking method. Thinly sliced strips of chicken breast, for instance, will not fare well coated in massive bread crumbs and fried over an open flame. But, a gentle saute in a virgin olive oil base with glazed onions and garlic would present very well on your dinner plate but make sure that you cook the garlic first in the oil and remove it before adding the chicken or the garlic could burn and cause the chicken to have a bitter taste. The olive oil will pick up the flavor of the garlic and saute the mixture and coat the chicken breast with tasting bitter. Small changes in the method make for huge changes at the dinner table.
Using fresh herbs, whenever possible makes for the best recipes. In fact, a lot of people grow their own herbs right in their own backyard. It’s not as hard as you think. You could grow them right on the window sill of your kitchen and snip off what you need from a variety of plants when you need to depending on what the recipe calls for. It’s natural, convenient and tastes so much better than its synthetic counterpart at the grocery store spice aisle. You could start with the basic herb plants like basil, rosemary, sage and thyme and then add to the collection as you become more experience d with recipe experimentation.
Healthy foods are not any harder to cook than the unhealthier fare, so treat yourself and your family well, and feed them great tasting, healthy foods.