#21  
Old 09-07-2009, 02:32 AM
PerryPizza's Avatar
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Default Re: Secret Cooking Ingredients

SALT!

Everyone seems scared to death to add enough salt - just watch a professional chef, you'd be amazed just how much salt they use! It's something processed food manufacturers know only too well and go overboard which is why it is linked to health problems, but if you're eating good real food please add enough salt, you're worth it.
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  #22  
Old 09-07-2009, 04:40 AM
Il Pizzaiolo
 
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Location: San Antonio
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Default Re: Secret Cooking Ingredients

Thanks for reviving this topic, Perry!

Three of the previous messages identify balsamic vinegar as a secret ingredient. One using 18 year old. A good trick is to buy cheaper balsamic and reduce it to a light syrup. The regular reduced balsamic is a lovely plate drizzle as well as a food drizzle. Great on meats, veggies, pizzas of many kinds, even desserts (especially fruity ones).

There is such a thing as white balsamic also. It too is wonderful reduced to a syrup. Try it on baked figs with blue cheese wrapped in prosciutto or serrano ham!
Jay
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  #23  
Old 09-07-2009, 05:16 AM
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Default Re: Secret Cooking Ingredients

Quote:
Originally Posted by PerryPizza View Post
SALT!

Everyone seems scared to death to add enough salt - just watch a professional chef, you'd be amazed just how much salt they use! It's something processed food manufacturers know only too well and go overboard which is why it is linked to health problems, but if you're eating good real food please add enough salt, you're worth it.
Most chefs use kosher salt whlie cooking which is not as salty as iodized or sea salt. So the amount looks of salt you see them use may be misleading if the home cook is not using kosher salt. So always taste as you season and buy some kosher salt keep it in a container where you can reach in and grab a pinch or more!!
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  #24  
Old 09-07-2009, 06:40 AM
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Location: Virginia
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Default Re: Secret Cooking Ingredients

A number of people also don't realize that you'll use a whole lot less salt if you just salt the water for potatoes, rice and pasta instead of trying to add it at the table. You can't add enough at the table to make up for what they didn't get while cooking....

I don't think I have one secret ingredient. My secret is to use the best stuff I can afford when it matters, and I try not to have too many things competing for your attention in the dish. I also make a some things that a lot of people buy- hummus, pesto, etc. I know most of you all probably make those too, but the vast majority of people buy a lot of prepared things, some of which are good, but a lot of which could be a lot better. My son's girlfriend gave me the best compliment once- "where do you shop for groceries? everything always tastes so good here!"
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  #25  
Old 09-07-2009, 07:49 AM
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Default Re: Secret Cooking Ingredients

I'm afraid I don't get the kosher salt thing. Salt is salt, no matter what size chunks it's in. I particularly like the sort of recipe that calls for unsalted butter and mounds of sea salt or kosher salt. I think these are markers about how classy the recipe writer is.

It's not like biblical times when salt bearing rock was boiled in stew, then thrown out when it had "lost it's savor".
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  #26  
Old 09-07-2009, 08:17 AM
Il Pizzaiolo
 
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Default Re: Secret Cooking Ingredients

Hi dmun!

My wife and I were both skeptics about salt for some time but I was converted in a cooking class where we did a salt tasting.

WRT kosher vs. regular table salt, the issue is not huge. The key difference there is that the larger grains create a subtle (or not once you recognize it) "larger" variation of saltiness across the food and tongue. The chemical differences are trivial and/or nonexistent except for iodine if you buy iodized salt.

Sea salts tend to be different - mainly in impurities which may or may not affect flavor. Cheaper sea salts in my experience are not a big deal or worth the money.

Cheaper sea salts and Mortons and Kosher are all pretty equivalent IMO.

Higher priced sea salts which I will call "finishing salts" are a whole different ballgame. There the size and shape and variation in size and shape is a big deal. And they tend to have somewhat different flavors (sometimes quite different) but it is usually more about texture and tongue "feel" and explosions (sort of like capers). I currently am using three finishing salts - a fleur de sel from France which is smallish to moderate flakes and light gray, Maldon from England which is highly variable in size but very thin flakes, and a black Hawaiian salt (that I use for appreance more than anything else).

You don't put these on until the very end. You don't want them to "dissolve" or at least not too much. You want them to provide a crunch and to provide tongue explosions.

The one salt I would recommend if someone wants to "try" an upscale sea salt is Maldon. It is not in the upper price range, is readily available, is neutrally flavored and versatile, and a good intro. I simply grab a pinch and "grind" it with my fingers as I sprinkle it on veggies or whatever with the amount of grinding determined by the size chunks I want. It can be especially good on salads.

I like it. I don't use it daily. 2-3 times a week when I think the food needs a little kick!
Jay
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  #27  
Old 09-07-2009, 01:59 PM
Il Pizzaiolo
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: USA
Posts: 1,436
Default Re: Secret Cooking Ingredients

wow,,, some good stuff here, My big "secret" when I make pizza I use McGregor Roasted garlic and salt steak rub instead of oregano, Just adds a little diferent flavor to it..
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  #28  
Old 09-07-2009, 06:46 PM
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Default Re: Secret Cooking Ingredients

Butter, cream, salt. I must add that as a child my favorite was a sugar sandwich.

Mark
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  #29  
Old 09-07-2009, 07:46 PM
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Default Re: Secret Cooking Ingredients

Word on the salt thing. And season as you go. Applying salt to a finsihed dish is not the same thing as a dish that's been properly seasoned as it cooks.

My latest ingredient obsession is shaved garlic. Chopped fresh garlic, yea, but shaved paper thin and it becomes a totally different experience, especially in the WFO. I just can't get enough of it. I keep a ramekin of it in olive oil in my fridge.

And not that anyone here would be so silly, but because I continue to be shocked by how often people seem to use it, never, NEVER buy that chopped jarred garlic. That stuff is utterly disgusting and tastes nothing like fresh garlic.
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  #30  
Old 09-08-2009, 07:49 AM
Il Pizzaiolo
 
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Default Re: Secret Cooking Ingredients

Well said, Splatgirl!

I too love shaved garlic. Ditto on the jarred chopped garlic. And I should have pointed out that in general one wants to slightly underseason with salt when cooking IF you will use a finishing salt! And...as you say, the finishing salt is NOT seasoning but more of an experience...

Thanks!
Jay
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