Tools and tech

To toast or not to toast, that's one of the questions!

06 July, 2021 0 comments Leave a comment

Do you use whole spices? If so, have you tried toasting them? If not, a gentle toasting can brighten flavors, bring out floral or spicy notes, and otherwise alter them, usually for the better. The only downside is that you should only toast when you are going to use the spices then or in the next week or so. 

If you are in the mood to experiment, try this: take a spice you intend to use, be it black pepper, coriander, cumin, fennel, or some other seed or bark. Decide what dish you want to use it it. Say, for example, you're making a roast chicken. Divide your chicken in half. Heat up a little honey in a saucepan divide it into two little bowls. Add the salt and some minced garlic to both bowls. Take some whole peppercorns and grind half of them into one of the bowls with the honey-garlic-salt mixture. Take a skillet and dry toast the other whole peppercorns until their aroma becomes pronounced. There's some kind of alchemy that happens when you toast black pepper; the flavors seem to expand and become brighter and richer. Set those peppercorns aside to cool and then grind them into the other honey-salt-garlic bowl. Smear one of the mixtures over half of the chicken and the other onto the other half. Roast the chicken at 375 degrees until it reaches the proper internal heat. Let it rest for 10 minutes and then dig in. 

Can you taste the difference? Please, let us know how they taste different to you. We'd love to hear.


11 March, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

You'll have so much more fun in the kitchen and you'll make better food if you trust in your ability to play with your food. Cooking is best when you cook with love: love for whomever you intend to feed, love for your own creative abilities, and love for the ingredients. To this end, recognize that you will not always have every ingredient the recipe calls for; you just won't. Either you thought you picked it up, but forgot to, or you couldn't find it, or you didn't like the look of it, or it was too damn expensive.  In any event, you'll find yourself without shallots, or with cauliflower instead of broccoli, or pork instead of chicken. 

Don't fret.  You can adapt.  Trust your instincts, check the cooking time of the ingredient you're substituting, add a little less of something with a stronger flavor or more of something more delicate.  Play.  And sometimes you'll fail utterly, but more often than not you'll create food that pleasantly surprises you.  It may not be exactly what you aimed for, but it may be gloriously unexpected.