Dreamy's Delights

It's all about the food!

Cooking by Smell

One thing I get asked a LOT is “How do you know what to put together?” My answer is… I put together the things that smell good together. It’s not even remotely scientific lol. There are just some flavors that you can smell and say “Oh! These will taste good together.”

For example… if you smell dill weed and cinnamon you don’t  get the feeling that they would taste good together. But if you smell dill and rosemary or cinnamon and cloves, those combinations make more sense to your nose.

So the first lesson is start SMELLING what you’re cooking. Each ingredient has a smell. From meats to vegetables to fats (cream and butter for example) to herbs and spices. Don’t be afraid to get your face close to what you’re cooking and smell it. No, you don’t need to stick your nose ON the food, leave that to the cats. (Btw, an herb is green and leafy and a spice is not. So dill, rosemary, oregano, basil etc are herbs. Salt, pepper, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, etc are spices. A blend of herbs and/or spices is called a “seasoning”.)

The next step is experimenting with how flavors go together. Don’t worry if something doesn’t come out, that’s what pizza delivery is for! Open bottles and jars and find some things you want to try putting together. Determine if you want to put them on meat or vegetables then decide which type. Beef has a much different flavor profile tha pork or chicken and the same seasoning profile may not work for all of them. For example, I love pork with cinnamon and cloves but that combination doesn’t excite me on chicken. So don’t be afraid to experiment.

The final step is knowing when you’ve got enough flavor in the pot. This requires tasting what you’re cooking. (I know, that’s SUCH a hardship lol.) If what you’re cooking tastes how you imagined it then it’s good and don’t mess with it! Otherwise you can tweak the flavor by adding a bit of this and that. Just don’t get carried away, you can’t take it out once it’s in the pot!

Another big tip… don’t forget the salt. While salt has been blamed for contributing to high blood pressure and other ills, a little bit will increase the flavor in your food and here’s why. Cell walls try to maintain an equilibrium between the salt inside the cell and the salt outside the cell. When you add salt to food, the cells release liquid from inside the food to equalize the salt levels. What this means is that the food releases some of it’s (very) flavorful liquid onto the outside adding more flavor to the final dish. Just keep in mind that it doesn’t take a whole lot but good tasting food does need some salt. 🙂

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