Saturday, June 23, 2007

A Devout Spice Girl

I'm not a great cook, but I don't think I'm bad either. I usually stick to pan-fried or stir-fried viands because they are very forgivable (I just make sure I don't burn them or serve them completely raw). I made a pan-seared sea bass fillet not too long ago and my mom, who happens to be my worst critic next to moi, was like "you actually made that?" Thanks, Mother, you are truly the best.

What's my secret to passing off regular food for pseudo gourmet feasts? Spices -- I thank the good Lord for them because they make my life (as a self-proclaimed student of the culinary arts) a whole lot easier. Finding a recipe and changing it up a little to make it your own is the hard part. When you're standing in the kitchen, a bunch of raw ingredients in one hand and armed with a large wooden spoon in the other, you probably feel like the best chef in the world and nothing can stop you from creating the most flavorful dish ever. Just a dash of spice and you're bound to impress palates other than your own.

The trick is to use some -- not USE ALL OF THEM AT ONCE. Too much of the stuff will create an overwhelming (albeit confusing) dish. Spices are meant to highlight the main ingredients, not overpower them. Let me remind you, it's called Grilled Chicken with Rosemary...not Rosemary with Chicken. If you're going for flavor over aesthetics, I suggest chopping the leaves into tiny bits. This way, the flavors are released exponentially and you get to taste it in every single bite. They smell pretty darn good, too.

If you're using dried herbs (which, by the way, I am so not against), try adding them before your meat is fully cooked. They're actually more flavorful that way. Fresh herbs, on the other hand, are better added right before you switch the stove off so they don't look too mushy. Tend to an herb garden and you'll never have to buy the stuff from the supermarket again.

Look at me, getting all excited about herbs and spices. You should hear me when I talk about other stuff -- like the beach, Ethan Hawke, and shopping -- you'll never hear the end of it.


Michelle said...

I think someone could cook gruel and if they put a fresh rosemary sprig on top, someone else would call it gourmet. Spices can definitely make the meal! My favorite is fresh basil leaves on sandwiches.

frenchkys said...

Oh, basil leaves rock! They're great in soups, salads, pasta dishes -- practically everything.

Thanks for stopping by, Michelle! =)

G.G. said...

This article made me so hungry! I must admit I'm not a great lover of Rosemary, but basil I can get on board with. And you can put Ethan Hawke on my steak anyday :P

frenchkys said...

Ethan Hawke is the spiciest of them all! I just love him! Grrr LOL