28 May 2014

15 Easy Ways to Improve a Bland Meal!

Before I get into the ways to make a bland meal taste so much better I'll just explain what inspired this post.

I have been experimenting with Quora and am getting quite hooked. If you're not familiar with Quora it is a very interesting and useful site where people ask questions and other people answer them! When I signed up I said I could answer questions on food, cooking, recipes, leftovers, ice cream and the British Virgin Islands. Having done this I can then answer any questions related to these subjects and some of them are pretty weird, I can tell you!  My favourites so far have been ..

What if any person's shoes you touched turned to cheese, would you eat those shoes?

And ...

Is it unethical to eat vegetables when they are unripe?  I mean as in being below the age of vegetable-puberty. What if the vegetable really wants to be eaten?

Some of them, however, have been sensible and one has inspired me to write this post! 

ideas- to-improve-a-dish
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 thank you!

What are some tips and tricks for turning a bland meal into something delicious?

Below are my ideas ...

1.  Firstly and most importantly a little salt helps everything, even sweet dishes (salted caramel – yum!) if used abstemiously.  Crunchy sea salt such as Maldon or Cornish Sea Salt are extra delicious when you bite on a crystal!

2. Flavoured salts add a new twist, smoked salt, chilli salt, lemon salt etc. are easily available or try making Bacon Salt, it's great on all sorts of things, try it with maple syrup for instance!

3. A squeeze of lemon juice or other citrus will brighten the flavour of fish, vegetables and in some cases chicken dishes.  Or, here’s an attractive idea, serve on a bed of sliced citrus fruit and it will not only look pretty, the flavour will infuse into the food.

4. Add a drizzle of vinaigrette to fresh vegetables eg. mint vinaigrette with peas.  Lots of vinaigrette recipes and info here.

5. A little sugar will help tomato dishes or, even better ...

6.  Gastrique

This is a useful thing to make and keep in your storecupboard, it can add flavour to all sorts of things.

60g sugar
225 (leftover!) red wine

~   Slowly heat together the water and sugar till dissolved and then cook without stirring, although you can swirl a bit, till caramelised.
~  Add the red wine (carefully, it will splutter) and then stir over low heat till the caramel, which will have hardened, has melted back into the wine.
~  Simmer over low heat till the mixture has reduced back down to about 60ml.
~  Cool.

A little gastrique adds a great boost to tomato soups and sauces and is also great drizzled over blue cheese, added to pan juices, added to fruits especially peaches or strawberries and even topped up with sparkling water as a different sort of spritzer.  Here's some drizzled onto a baked pear stuffed with blue cheese.

7. Whisk a little butter (flavoured if you like and as appropriate, e.g. garlic butter) into a sauce to improve both flavour and texture.  See here for some flavoured butter ideas.

8. Flavoured oils also work well stirred in at the last minute;sesame oil  is a good addition to Oriental dishes or make your own infused oils. Holy Lama  make a great range of oils specifically designed to add to finished dishes.  Here’s my review and some ideas for them

9. Drizzle a dish with a suitably flavoured oil or glaze or sauce.  This is balsamic glaze drizzled over fried leftover polenta.

10. Add grated Parmesan cheese to boost umami (savouriness).

11. Sprinkle dishes with fresh herbs chosen in accordance with the dish - these are Flowers of Scotland on simple potato soup but something less stunning will taste good too!

12. Speaking of sprinkling, Pangrattato is a delicious and crunchy addition to almost anything!

13. Freshly ground spices will perk things up; black pepper with most things, nutmeg with potatoes or spinach, paprika (smoked or otherwise) with whatever you fancy.  A little chilli not only enhances savoury dishes but can be great with sweet dishes too such as fruit salads or chocolate mousse and so can cinnamon.
The flower thing in the front is for
display purposes only! It is the
wotsit by which a coconut is attached to the tree.

14. Sprinkle flavoured sugars such as cinnamon or lemon on sweet dishes, vanilla sugar is great of course or see here for a wonderful thing!!! 

14. Make the food look appealing – this gets the old gastric juices flowing and so helps with both digestion and enjoyment of the meal.

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1 comment:

HeiLin (Heidy McCallum) said...

Thank you so much for sharing your awesome blog post on our link party we formerly co-hosted for 23 weeks, (The Weekend Social) I just wanted to update you to our new link party #PureBlogLove. It runs every Thursday 8 pm est-Sunday nights at midnight. The other girls are still hosting the former party on their pages so don't forget drop by and visit them as well. I hope to see you this week at our new one.
Have a fantastic night
Heidy L. McCallum