Cooking Tips to Help You Savor the Flavor of Food
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Even though National Nutrition Month—the brain child of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics—has come to a close, I hope you will still find ways to savor the flavor of eating and living well. To help you celebrate the flavor of foods, here’s a fabulous guest post from cookbook author and culinary instructor Robyn Webb, MS.
Eating savory, luscious food that pops with piquancy is the right antidote to serving food that may be healthy but may also be dull, boring and tasteless. Fortunately, through my position as food editor of Diabetes Forecast Magazine and as a regular culinary instructor for numerous health-focused cooking classes, each day I’m challenged to create deeply flavored food. We all know that adding spices and herbs help make foods shine, but it’s also important to look at how using specific cooking techniques can produce delicious food every time.
Adding Crunch: Want to know the universal truth to making great food? Roasting foods such as cauliflower at high temperatures or lightly coating foods like fish filets lightly with breadcrumbs or flour can make these foods crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside—a winning combination.
Browning Food: Searing a piece of chicken isn’t just flavorful, it’s scientific! Two processes—one called the Maillard reaction and the other, caramelization—collide. As food browns, amino acids and carbohydrates undergo changes and complex flavors emerge. So next time you cook a piece of chicken, for example, think about pan- browning it instead of just baking it an oven.
Using Maceration: Typically, maceration means soaking food in liquid. But I like to do something simpler and more flavorful: I sprinkle cucumbers or tomatoes with a little sea or kosher salt and let it stand 20 minutes. This draws juices out of the vegetable, and that juice can be spooned like a sauce over other foods such as cold cooked broccoli or cauliflower. Even though fruit can be tasty on its own, sprinkling a little bit of sugar over berries and letting them stand can similarly create a pool of deep, rich sauce that can be used over foods like smooth, creamy Greek yogurt.
Adding Acid: Did you ever say to yourself, “Something is just missing from this dish, but I can’t put my finger on it?” Hold a fresh piece of cut citrus fruit in your hand and squeeze or pour over it some wine from its bottle to add the missing piece to a dish. Acid brightens food and balances flavor. For maximal flavor, try to use the juice from fresh citrus instead of bottled juice.
Toasting: While adding spices and herbs to your food isn’t new or earth shattering, toasting them helps their flavors intensify dramatically. I recommend starting with whole spices whenever possible, toasting them, and then grinding them. I even like to toast fresh oregano sprigs until they are dry and then crumble the leaves to add a fresh taste to dishes like [please add one or two examples].
Most of the flavor enhancing techniques described above are illustrated in this Chicken Thighs with Za’atar recipe. This recipe can be served with a side salad of crisp greens garnished with a lot of chopped parsley and drizzled with emerald green olive oil and fresh lemon.
I hope you enjoy the techniques and recipe above and above all else remember to savor the flavor at all your meals!
To learn more about Robyn Webb, food editor of Diabetes Forecast Magazine, health and wellness editor of The Daily Basics, and the creator of the delicious recipes featured in my latest book, Younger Next Week, visit her website.
For other ways to savor the flavor of food and eat better, check out the links below from the Food, Fitness & Fiction blog:
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