Gentle Readers, today’s post comes from a wonderful question The Practical Cook has asked herself many times. That moment when dinner is almost done, and you taste it, having followed a recipe, only to be disappointed. Perhaps it’s bland, undersalted, or just the wrong profile for your taste buds of the moment. What to do?
The inspiration for the timing of this post, a lovely meal of leftovers from Blended Familia. Yes, yes I will show up to eat your leftovers. It’s a service I provide. But I digress. What if you make something you feel just “meh” about when it’s done?
Here are Three Fast Flavor Boosts (the diving catches of the kitchen):
1. Salt. The very first thing to consider is whether the dish is seasoned properly. Everyone has a different tolerance, and the line between full flavor and salty is thin indeed. But taste, season lightly, and see if it is improved. The Juniors and I do this at the table a lot. It’s a great practice to taste first and season later, teach them young. And let them taste the difference as more is added.
2. Heat. It takes many forms. Sriracha is a great one, to be added as a condiment. I like Tabasco as an ingredient, you can add at the end, but cooking it a little balances the heat. Red pepper flakes are a simple last-minute add. And no fridge should be without some pickled jalepenos. Not every dish can be a wonder-filled exercise in subtlety, if heat gets the family to eat bok choy, bring it.
3. Garnish. Sometimes the “optional” item saves the recipe. Don’t overlook the power of diced green onions, lime or lemon juice, pickles of all stripes, diced avocado, parsley, diced tomatoes, bacon, etc. That extra minute you spend prepping some garnish could make the several minute difference in selling the dish or agony of defeat.
What’s your strategy for saving something bland? Post a comment, save a supper.
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On Friday, Bruschetta for Dinner: Tips, Guidelines, and a Flexible Recipe.