Recipe For Simple Good Food
Ever wondered why a culinary dish doesn’t turn out right even if you’ve carefully followed the recipe? It’s one of the most frustrating, annoying things in life. The secret to a good dish lies not only in its recipe but also in a number of other things.
Recipe for good tasting food = Good Recipe + Good Ingredients + Good Cooking Techniques
Lets analyze the above equation:
1. Good recipe:
A recipe is a set of instructions on how to do something. Therefore, a food recipe is a set of instructions on how to prepare a culinary dish. In general, a food recipe would include the following:
a) A list of food ingredients and their quantities/proportions. An example of this would be one teaspoon (tsp) of sugar. The proportion could be be more specific, say, 5 grams of sugar. Or, it could be more abstract, like a “pinch of salt; a handful of basil leaves.” The more specific the quantity/proportion, the less likely it is to cause errors in quantities used.
b) How detailed is the processes required to prepare the dish. Mix in flour and fold in flour means two different things. Whisk egg whites until soft and fluffy or whisk egg whites for three minutes at high speed. Don’t you think the latter instruction is clearer and more specific?
2. Good Ingredients:
Do hand picked home grown vegetables really taste better than the store bought variety? Take my word for it, they do; for one simple reason – they’re fresher. Just imagine grilling fish that was minutes ago swimming in the sea. Try making bread with all-purpose flour instead of high-protein bread flour. You might get something which resembles bread, but cut it up and you won’t find the body or texture of good bread. The simple fact is, to get the best end product you have to start with the best ingredients.
3. Good cooking techniques:
The examples are endless. Here’s two of them:
a) Creaming is a very important process in making good butter cakes. Get this step wrong and your butter cake will disappoint you. Creaming is a method where sugar is used to cut butter to create as much air bubbles possible. Recipes normally say “cream sugar and butter until light in color.” To get the maximum amount of air bubbles in the fat, it needs to be of the right texture. If the butter is too soft the sugar just blends into it and you don’t get sufficient air bubbles. It is therefore vital that the temperature of the butter be maintained between 65 to 70 degree F prior to creaming. The butter then has enough body for the sugar crystals to the their job.
b) Meat is often seared on top of a stove in a skillet before roasting and most recipes ask you to do this. Well-browned meat tastes great because heat creates complex reactions between certain sugars and proteins to produce a flavorful crust. A technique to get even more flavor into the meat is to oven brown it at the end of roasting. During roasting, meat juices come to the surface and evaporate. These juices have lots of sugars and proteins. When the juices evaporate, they leave behind the sugars and proteins on the surface. Turn up the oven heat to 500 degree F for the last few minutes to cook these sugars and proteins. Voila! Better tasting meat.
Little things make big differences. You now know the secrets to great tasting food. And they aren’t really secrets but practical knowledge put to good use. So, the next time a recipe doesn’t give you the result you want, you can be sure there’s something missing in the equation for good tasting food!