It is assumed that all chef’s have little secret’s that they keep to enhance the deliciousness of their menu’s. Adding a little of this to that, and mixing in something else to come up with an interesting and original dish that is uniquely theirs.
Some Chef’s like to keep their secrets just as that, ‘a secret recipe’; others choose to give some of their secrets away to employees who work in their kitchen so as to keep the authenticity of their signature dishes; and other chefs, particularly those who have become well-known through the media, on television shows or writing their own newspaper columns, may divulge all in their books or on TV to the masses who covet them.
So bearing in mind Chef’s Secrets, here is a list of the more well known methods (but by no means widely used) to enhance the flavour and taste of your cooking.
If you are making stocks, stews, casseroles or soups, add a bouquet garni for extra flavour. A bouquet garni is a bag, if shop bought (it looks like a tea bag), or bundle of herbs that is added to dishes to enhance the flavour. There is no general recipe for a bouquet garni but it tends to include parsley, thyme and bay leaf. It can include any number of other herbs. Just remember to remove it when you have finished cooking, diners would be shocked to find a ‘teabag’ in their dinner as has been known.
Various oils can really enhance the flavour of different dishes. Walnut oil can delicately flavour certain salad dishes; avocado oil is a more delicate but flavoursome version of olive oil; and truffle oil is an oil that imitates the taste of expensive truffles, so will add a certain decadence to risotto’s and sauces – it is said that after using truffle oil chef’s will rarely use anything else, so for the sake of impressing friends, give it a try.
Adding certain substances to plain and often overlooked everyday foods, and in particular vegetables, can really change the flavour experience of them. For example, drizzle honey over oven baked carrots, butternut squash, parsnip or other root vegetables to bring out the natural sweetness in them. Add sugar and butter to boiled green cabbage; infuse cinnamon when steaming red cabbage, which really makes it the seasonal vegetable that it should be. Rub olive oil and sea salt onto jacket potatoes before cooking them; and mashed potatoes taste so much better with the inclusion of butter or milk or cream and a dash of mustard or even a clove of mashed garlic.
Use parts of the vegetable you may otherwise throw away. Stir fry the stumps of broccoli; steam, and mix in butter, the leaves of the beetroot; salt and roast the seeds of your pumpkin and add to salads;
By experimenting this way you may find a dish or flavour that is otherwise overlooked, or you may find a chef’s secret to share, with you being the chef who discovered it.