Nov/Dec 04..From an email I sent to a friend..
...since you mentioned not knowing as many cooking tricks for adding flavoring to your dishes, here is an unofficial list of 'secrets' or 'tricks' I use.. 1) One can always just 'steal' taste from a fancy store bought seasoning or salad dressing (secret trick #1: salad dressings are not just for salads! They work, if one chooses well, in many many hot dishes, if one uses the right, more modest amounts). Sure Goddess dressing costs more, maybe $3, but if you use it only for special dishes then using 1/6 or even 1/3 of it is just 50 cents to a dollar, to make one's Veggie Potluck dish more special.. 2) Another trick is to season the veggies separately, on top of the seasoning in the main dish. For example, when stir-frying (or healthier, when steaming). For example, this time I steamed the nappa (sp?) cabbage in my steamer..One way to flavor it is this, steam with water...but then pour a mixture on top. The mixture is maybe 1/4 of a cup, which is 2/3 water, 1/6 lemon juice concentrate, 1/6 liquid aminos (or use soy sauce) or just a bit less dilluted than that but almost as dilluted. Then this mixture is poured, in two or three pourings, over the steaming veggies, once every 1-3 minutes. The veggies absorb much of the flavor, and the rest ends up in the boiling water beneath the steaming veggies and flavors them slowly. The lemon juice and healthier soy sauce (liquid aminos) are just the two most basic ones, but you can create variations on this basic idea. The key is the veggies are not flavors on top of the flavoring (see 1) above and 3) etc below) you put into the hot dish itself. 3) In general slow, longer cooking = more subtle flavors and aromas, more flavor seeping in. 4) In general, oil helps carry and hold flavors/aromas, so I put the olive oil even with the water as I start the water boiling, before later adding the couscous (as in this case) or kasha, millet, amaranth, quinoa (pronounced "keen-wah" as you may know), etc (tip for quinoa: rinse the soap-like "saponins" off first to avoid slight bitter taste) 5) More "serious" flavor tips like in 1) above. Don't be afraid to try innovative things, like a little bit of "sweet" herbs (allspice or cinnamon or nutmeg) in a non-sweet dish. As always when experimenting, trying a small amount the first time.. 6) Experimenting with combinations. My "secret flavorings" are often a combination of a *small* amount of *seven* or more things, like, in addition to the lemon/soysauce on the veggies, I might use, some of the fake chicken broth in Healthful Habits, a *small* amount of mustard, a *small* amount of some salad dressing, small amount of blackstrap molasses, small amount (you get the idea) of 'hot chili ketchup' (which is not very hot and which I got a full bottle, normally $4 or so, for only $1.25 when on sale at Health Store and More), a bit of Nayonaise vegan dressing to give some creamy texture and more flavor, plus regular spices (often I use things like garlic powder, rosemary, etc). Of course onions even steamed are always very nice for aroma. 7) I even used the Thai Kitchen (vegan) flavor packet *plus* a bit of most of the above secrets, at the last veggie potluck with the rice-noodle dish I brought in..Again the key is small amounts otherwise it will, of course, be taste overkill and will be too spicy or won't taste good. And gain, it's best when you're experimenting for the first time to only try 2-3 tricks and expand later when you are confident in how much is enough/not too much, which combinations..though in small amounts you don't have to worry nearly as much about getting the combinations 'right'.. There you have it, a crash course in some of the secrets I've discovered over the years...for giving unique flavors to dishes..when I cook for myself i'm often lazy and less fancy but when cooking for UU or Veggie Potluck a little extra time helps make for unique flavors..
Dec 30 2004 -- Recent recipe: cooked millet and dahl (Indian
legume..similar to a lentil or split pea). Added blackstrap molasses
(make sure it says "blackstrap"; that's the good stuff, and 1 tbsp
will contain something like 18% of daily iron and some 10% of daily calcium)
cilantro, rosemary, and thyme; olive oil; modest amounts of organic
italian herb vinaigrette (seeds of change) and sesame dressings;
steamed veggies flavored as in 2) above, veggies were baby carrot
slices, red and white onion, zucchini, etc. Added some greens from a
can since didn't have fresh, but that's optional. Can add garlic et al
to steamed veggie list above.
When done, I added some vegan mayo (Nayonaise, but veganaise would
probably also work) to make it more velvety. Make as many of the above
organic if possible, of course.
It was very well received at the veggie potluck tonight, particularly
the flavorings in this dish..
and steamed veggies flavored as in 2) above, veggies were baby carrot slices, red and white onion, zucchini, etc. Added some greens from a can since didn't have fresh, but that's optional. Can add garlic et al to steamed veggie list above.
When done, I added some vegan mayo (Nayonaise, but veganaise would probably also work) to make it more velvety. Make as many of the above organic if possible, of course.
It was very well received at the veggie potluck tonight, particularly the flavorings in this dish..