Must Haves
Hungry Love Gourmet



          
THE RIGHT STUFF 
Ein
stein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. What he was trying to say, is that cheap vinegar will taste like motor oil no matter what you cook it with. My point? The easiest way to up your game is to invest in better ingredients. These cooking essentials are worth every penny.
   

OPULENT ONION
Whatever it is you’re making, it’ll taste better if you replace regular old yellow o
nions with a jazzier variety. Here are some alternatives and what they best suit:
Shallots: soup, baked potatoes, stuffing
Leeks: pasta sauce, soup, fish
Red Onion: salad, sauces
Green Onion a.k.a. scallion: pizza, rice. quinoa, peanut sauce, soy dipping sauce 
MARVELOUS MUSTARD
Dijon and honey mustard are my favorites. This is not the time or place for store brand imposters. Mustard is delightful in salad dressing as well as sauces for meat and chicken. Wasabi is a zinger and can be substituted for mustard in most recipes. My grandmother used powdered mustard which is super strong. if you want a pure taste, this is the way to go, just be careful not to use too much. You can substitute horseradish for mustard in a lot of recipes if you dare –yes, even in salad dressing.
HERBS AND SPICES
I'm scared of cumin too, but I’m crazy about thyme, basil, fennel, anise, herbs de provence and turmeric. Fresh herbs are preferable most of the time, but not always possible or necessary. If you don’t have a garden, grow a few pots on your window sill: you’ll look like an easy breezy gourmet, even if you never cook. Wunder-spice turmeric is believed to cure just about anything, from Alzheimers to Arthritis. I throw it in soups, sauces, meat and turkey, and so far, no one’s caught on. Switch up your spices every once in a while, it’ll give a facelift to a beloved but tired favorite.
OLIVE OIL
Does it really matter? Damn right it does. There are four kinds of olive oil, but you only want to use two of them: Extra Virgin and Virgin. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the best, most flavorful and justifiably the most expensive. It should be used on salads, in sauces, marinades, bruschetta and the like. Virgin Olive Oil is lighter in color, flavor, consistency and price. You can use it in all the above as well as for sautéing and frying. Personally, I prefer the stronger, peppery, fruity taste of good extra virgin olive oil. Pure Olive Oil and Fine Olive Oil are made by processing Virgin Olive Oil with solvents and water. Don’t go there.
VELVETY VINEGAR
I use a lot of vinegar in my recipes, and it’s not just because it gives my mother-in-law migraines. Quality vinegar gives the perfect kick to just about everything. For years I was too cheap to buy the good stuff, so I'm not judging you. Nor do I expect you to buy the $100 bottle, but I do hope you'll go up a price point or two and taste the difference. I mostly use rice vinegar and balsamic
vinegar. Warning: balsamic vinegar is considered passe and overused, so keep it hush hush. They'll last longer if you keep them in the fridge.
BRAND NAME or NO NAME?
It depends. In the magnificent movie Mostly Martha, Martha, the Uber-chef-protagonist can decipher a brand of sugar a mile away. She’s a bit of a loon, but that doesn’t discount the fact that when it comes to chocolate, quality counts. Yes, that includes chocolate chips. What exactly am I saying? If you can afford the good stuff, great, if not, just use it for key ingredients that you'll really taste.
 To clarify: only buy great chocolate. 

 

 

EASY PICK ME UPS
Fennel:
Add fennel to your favorite fish or salad and poof, it's new and improved. Give it a fake French name and everyone will want seconds.
Za'atar
Add this combo of Mediterranean spices and sesame seeds to your baked potatoes or meat for a crunchy herby finish.
Bye Bye Sugar:
Replace regular sugar with maple, date or agave syrup, if not raw brown sugar in any recipe.

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