Adding Flavor to Simple Recipes

Well, it’s clear that I haven’t had a chance to post much here recently, and I haven’t been doing many cooking challenges lately either. Sometimes life gets too hectic. With that in mind, I am returning my focus to simple recipes, and I will post a bunch of them here.

By simple recipes, I mean recipes that have only a handful of ingredients, no more than five total, including salt, pepper and oil. Or quick but complete dinners that you can put together in one pan. These are the kinds of recipes that you will memorize after making them two or three times, so that you can easily whip one up on a weeknight even if you’re dead tired, or you can pull out when you’re not sure what to make with that ingredient you picked up on sale.

These recipes are great to add to your repertoire, but the problem is that they can become boring after a while. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a ready-made arsenal to add pizzazz to any recipe. You can vary the flavors depending on your mood and what you have available.

Here is my list of sure-fire ways to quickly and easily boost the flavor quotient in a simple recipe:

  • Garnish it with fresh herbs after cooking.
  • Sprinkle in a little citrus juice or vinegar at the end of cooking.
  • Add minced chiles or red pepper flakes for heat.
  • Substitute heavy cream, sour cream, plain yogurt or melted butter for some of the oil.
  • Sprinkle with grated Parmesan or other cheese or with crumbled bacon (you can substitute bacon grease for some of the oil as well).
  • Mix in slow-roasted tomatoes, roasted red peppers, pesto or other ready-made ingredients from the pantry.
  • Substitute or add similar vegetables.

As I post some of my favorite tried-and-true simple recipes, I’ll provide examples of these flavor boosters. But never be afraid to experiment. Cooking is more fun that way!

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3 thoughts on “Adding Flavor to Simple Recipes

  1. Tom Buckley 3 November 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Shannon,

    I’m retired and do the cooking. For the longest time I been looking for a baked chicken recipe that made juicy, boneless, skinless breasts. I finally found yours and like the name says, “it’s a no fail” recipe. After trying it several times the chicken is always juicy and cooked to the proper temperature. Today I’m trying your recipe for bone-in, skinned, chicken. Also your pan sauce is easy to make and again

    Tom

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  3. Mark H. Nudelman 14 March 2012 at 6:14 pm

    If you like Cinnamon I have a tip. Buy the best, freshest Cinnamon in whole sticks or pieces. go to a reputable spice shop that imports. Use a simple electric spice or nut grinder and grind the spice up fresh. it is like nothing you have tasted. The already-powdered stuff in bottles tastes like sawdust by comparison. In general, once you powder any spice it exposes the area to air and the vital oils begin to oxidize immediately. If you are like me an most others, there are bottled spices in my rack older than my family members! Try fresh Cinnamon!

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