Secret Ingredients

Food/Cooking - General
By: CookinMama    
11-Nov-2010

Introduction:We've all made a dish to serve to friends and family, ready to go, only to realize that someone else made the same dish. The difference is theirs taste better than ours. WHAT is up with that?!?! Well, I'll tell you what's up with that..... they've used something as simple as a secret ingredient. In most cases the secret ingredient is SO simple that most of it have it in our pantries already. These five ingredients are the top of the line (but simple and easy) secret ingredients I've learned from other great cooks over the years.

  • 01

    Evaporated Milk

    Time after time I tasted my mamas mashed potatoes and knew that she was the one that taught me to make them, but what was she doing that was SO different that made them taste so creamy and delicious? Instead of using cold milk from the fridge, she used evaporated milk. Evaporated milk would stand up better than regular milk to extended periods of heat (in a crock pot at holidays, for example). Since learning this secret ingredient, I've only used evaporated milk in my mashed potatoes and in my crock pot recipes that call for regular milk.

  • 02

    Coffee

    A long time ago I remember trying some brownies that had a chocolate frosting on top that were OUT OF THIS WORLD. When I started inquiring what it was that made these brownies SO good, the very nice baker shared that she used a small amount of either left over coffee from the morning or instant coffee granules in the batter and in the frosting. Ever since that day I have done the same thing. It only takes a small amount (after all you don't want the coffee flavor to come through) and it perks up and amplifies the cholatey - ness of the whatever you're making.

  • 03

    Lemon Juice

    We've all had that chicken salad sandwich or that side of sugar snap peas that taste so fresh and vibrant, but couldn't quite figure out what gave it that bright flavor. Chances are it was a squeeze of lemon juice. Lemon juice brings out the best of veggies, chicken, cream cheese dishes and fish. Just a squeeze of it will make a big difference without giving your dish and overpowering lemon taste.

  • 04

    Garlic Powder

    Haven't you wondered time and time again when you go to that favorite restaurant and order something as simple as fries what makes them taste SO good? If you ask the waiter what makes them so good, he/ she will more than likely tell you that it is a "house" blend seasoning. After working in several high end restaurants I learned that most of them have the same "house" seasoning. It is salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder. The garlic powder is what makes the difference in the blend and gives everything that great taste. Mixed with the other spices it mellows out and doesn't have an overpowering garlic flavor at all.

  • 05

    Nutmeg

    Most of us think of nutmeg as a holiday spice that is used to spice ciders, mull wines and make countless cakes and pies. Very few people know that ground nutmeg will give dark greens and cheese dishes a great complimentary flavor. Every time I've added nutmeg to sauteed spinach or cheese fondue, it always leaves people wondering what that great flavor was that they were tasting. When I tell them it was nutmeg they always seem shocked, but pleasantly surprised. Again, you don't want to use so much that it is overpowering, but enough to give it a great undertone of earthiness.




Final Thoughts

Surprise your family and friends by amping up your next dish with one of these secret ingredients. Soon you'll have everyone saying "This is delicious, what did you do different?" Don't be afraid to shock and awe them all with your new found secrets!




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