Sometimes it feels like cheating.
When someone eats something you’ve put minimal effort in and claims it to be delicious. “What did you do to this?”
Probably, not much.
Granted, there is technique and heat and timing. Some of that is intuition and just doing it enough that you start understanding how it all works together. But then there are things we don’t do to food that make it delicious. Like not cooking it too much or just using salt and pepper. Or really, just salt.
One of the biggest eye openers since learning to cook is how to properly salt foods. Yes, salt makes things delicious. Don’t be afraid of it unless it’s in the form of preservatives. Always check out cans before you buy them. Anything in bottles and such. That’s really one of the only ways you’ll find yourself eating too much salt. Salt is good for us. We need it to function. There are tons of different kinds of salt. Most common you’ll see table salt. I almost always prefer kosher salt. So much so that if I’m going somewhere to cook, I’ll bring some with me because I hate having to cook with table salt. I’ve talked about this before. Just invest in some kosher salt. It caramelized meat better and you’ll have an easier time properly seasoning food. Maldon sea salt is also brilliant. It’s in bigger flakes. Goes great on meat as a finishing salt, or a little on top of your chocolate chip cookies. (Shyeah!)
Remember, salt enhances flavor. Pepper adds a flavor. The two are not always cohesive.
Use good butter.
Oh, and cook with it — all the time!
A little part of me dies on the inside when I see margarine in someone’s refrigerator. Why?? It’s no better for you. It’s processed veggie oil and water. You’re better off eating real food. We were built to eat real food. I think that’s why it all tastes so delicious to us.
“What’s in this?”, you ask?
I know you’ve probably read that margarine is better for your heart, but my (and other) doctors disagree. Real animals fats are better for our bodies than processed veggie fats.
If you’re not a fan of veggies, I’d recommend roasting them in your oven with a good amount of olive oil and sea salt. Roast them until they start to brown and caramelize. It will change the way you see them and you’ll probably start wanting to eat them more. Introduce yourself to things in this way.
Especially if they are good for you.
Buy fresh ingredients. Buy good olive oil. I promise it’s worth the extra dollar or two.
The biggest thing in learning how to cook food well is to taste good food. Find a place that is known for its fresh/local/seasonal foods and eat there. Once something becomes your pinnacle for deliciousness, strive to cook that way. Don’t ever stop learning.
Get a fancy cookbook and attempt to cook one really impressive dish once a week or two weeks. It’ll cause you to keep a few extra ingredients around that you probably wouldn’t have tried.
For me, it comes down to what I don’t do.
I don’t want my broccoli to taste like cheese.
I want my broccoli to taste like broccoli.
I’m not speaking for everyone when I say these things are absolute. I’m sure you all have secrets to making your food taste good — I just know in my experience, a few things you can count on are fresh ingredients, good olive oil, proper amounts of salt, real butter and good ole’ fashioned learning. Start with those things and work your way up. Cooking becomes so much more awesome when the things we cook turn out surprisingly delicious.
With love and butter,