These simple cooking tips can make the difference between a so-so dish and one that is inspired. Let us explore some easy and healthy ways to boost the taste and flavors of your party food.
Butter and Oils
From a culinary point of view, butter, oils and other fats add an essential deliciousness to foods. They add a completeness, a feeling of comfort and fullness. Don't overdo it! Just a little bit will produce the comforting "mouth feel" we all crave.
Too much fat may distract from the flavors of aromatic vegetables or delectable herbs and spices. When used in moderation oil and butter pose no threat to an overall healthy diet. Extra virgin olive oils are not good for cooking at high temperatures. The oil burns off and the flavor gets lost. Save good oils for flavoring or use pure/light olive oil for panfrying.
Dipping Oil Recipe
In large flat plate add one tablespoon fresh herbs such as basil or Italian parsley. Add 1-2 cloves minced garlic, 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add a few drops of lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of shredded Parmesan cheese (optional). Mix well. Pour 1/2 to 3/4 cup good extra virgin olive oil into the herb mixture and blend gently. Serve with a warm soft bread.
A small amount of chile will give an exciting warmth and tingle to the tongue. It can open your taste buds and enliven your palate. Certain parts of the country enjoy a larger variety of chiles then others.
The most widely available chiles are jalapeño, serrano, long greens or Anaheim, habaneros and poblanos.
Chiles can be used like other aromatic vegetables such as onions, and can be gently sautéed (sweated), roasted, grilled or chopped and used raw
Stuffed Banana Chiles Recipe
Banana peppers have a slight kick to them. Stuffed with meat they are just the right size for a dinner buffet along with rigatoni and tomato sauce. Cool it all down with minted cucumber and onion salad.
Green Chile Butter Recipe
To one stick of softened butter add 1 tablespoon finely minced jalapeño and 1/2 tablespoon of finely chopped lime zest, 1/2 teaspoon lime juice, 2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro (or parsley) and one thinly sliced scallion. Add salt to taste. Mix well until thoroughly combined.
On a piece of plastic wrap, roll butter into a log and refrigerate at least one hour. Slice and add to hot vegetables, baked chicken breast and baked potatoes.
Can be made in advance. Use within 2 weeks for best flavor. Will last indefinitely in the freezer.
Citrus Juices and Zest
Keep plenty of fresh lemons, limes and oranges on hand for their tangy juice and flavorful zest.
The sparkling nip of citrus juice brings out flat or hidden flavors of most foods and provides a nice acidic boost to roasted or sauteed veggies. Orange juice adds a tangy sweetness to pork and chicken and is marvelous on baked sweet potatoes. A good splash of lemon juice can help reduce the amount of salt used.
Slow-Roasted Lemon Chicken Recipe
Try this exceptionally mouthwatering dish. Perfect when you want to really wow your family and friends. It is a "set it and forget it meal". You will make this one over and over, I guarantee.
Herb and Orange Zest Marinade
In a blender or food processor bowl place 1/3 cup fresh rosemary, oregano or thyme leaves (use a mixture if you wish), 3 cloves sliced garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped orange zest and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Process to a course paste. Remove to a small bowl and gradually blend in a scant 1/2 cup olive oil and 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice. Makes about 1/2 cup of marinade enough for about 2 lbs. of food
An assertive aromatic vegetable and the quintessential seasoning in Cajun-Creole, Italian and Asian cooking.
I don't know of anyone who
isn't drawn to the tantalizing smell of garlic sauteing in butter.
Cooking with Wine and Other Spirits
Cooking with wine and other spirits is an elegant way to add background
and complexity to sauces and other dishes.
See our Alcohol Guide for information on serving alcohol at your party
Chicken Marsala Recipe
Some of the most delicious wines to use in cooking are sherry, Marsala and Madeira. They may be used interchangeable depending on what is available and affordable. This is an outstanding dinner party recipe idea