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Chris Amirault

Don't tell anyone, but when I cook I use...

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Vegemite (Bovril when I can afford it), stock concentrates, sugar (I add them to savory dishes the way you add a pinch of salt to sweet things), porcini powder, shrimp paste, garlic powder, dried onion

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Okay how long can Better Than Boullion keep opened in my fridge.

I end up using a spoonful and 3 weeks later toss it out cause it is a

"liquid"

Hmmmmmm. I've probably used Better Than Boullion (chicken, beef and veggie) for about 10 years, at least. Certainly since right after they were introduced into the mass market. I've never had a jar liquify in the fridge. Ever. It's always pasty. If I keep it out on the counter for a prolonged period during prep, it does get a bit more "loose", but still not close to what I'd call liquid. I've probably kept opened jars in the fridge for up to 6 months...never a problem. If anything, I wish it would be a bit more "liquid" so it would dissolve better in cold or cool liquids.

Oh, and I have no shame about using Better Than Boullion. Nor Accent. Nor Lawry's Seasoned Salt (or Seasoned Pepper). Or Maggi. Or Kitchen Bouquet. Or Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning. They all have their place. Better Than Boullion moreso than the others....


--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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Ground Dried Mushrooms. I also use garlic powder and onion powder. And I use eel sauce anytime someone else would use steak sauce or bbq sauce - say in homemade hamburgers or meatloaf. Don't tell my daughter. The idea of eating eel sauce makes her want to hurl.

Eel sauce? sounds quite interesting. Brand name or source?

I buy eel sauce at the Asian Market down the street. It's on the right hand side of the third aisle on the right. <grin> Since that may no be helpful to you, let's see if I can post a picture...

DSCF90061.JPG

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"Better than Bouillon" brand base.

I've always appreciated the honesty of this brand name.

Agreed. It is such a quality product.

Hard to tell if that's sarcasm.

I rather like the stuff. It isn't homemade chicken stock by any stretch. But when I want to boil up some potatoes for mashing, it does a fine job of flavoring the cooking liquid. This saves me from breaking out "from scratch" stock -- which I save for the applications that really need a good stock.

I also use it routinely in sauces that are missing both a little salt, and a little umami. Makes a big difference in a flat velouté or a lackluster gravy.

-------

As for the person who sneaks anchovies into dishes -- don't shrink away from the anchovy! Sing it's praises from the rooftops. "You're going to LOVE this! It's got some anchovy paste in it!"

I'll bet more than half the people who don't like anchovies actually LIKE anchovies. But they don't know it because the fish has always been added surreptitiously.


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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Yep, another big fan of better than bouillon base here.

The only thing I'm somewhat ashamed of using is store bought mayo, for the simple reason that mayo couldn't be easier to make and is always better than the salty greasy junk from the store. Still, I don't use mayo that much, and whenever I make it from scratch I always end up with more than I can use before it goes bad.

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Kitchen Bouquet, just for the caramel coloring. Hey, we eat with our eyes, too.

I'll see your Kitchen Bouquet and raise you a bottle of Gravy Master.


"Unleash the sheep!" mamster

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Yeah! Vegeta added to Costco rotisserie chicken skin and bones makes superb chicken stock, and you'll never run out of pulled chicken or fragrant, golden chicken stock with this method. One carcass and one tablespoon or so of Vegeta, water to fill a 5 qt saucepan.

What else do you use Vegeta for?

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Fish sauce. A few shakes add something that no one notices, but everyone likes. A mashed-up anchovy would do the same, but the bottled kind (nam pla) is easy.

I add a tiny squeeze of lime juice to lots of things too (near the end of cooking). Not enough to taste the lime, but it picks things up.

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I add ~1/4C buttermilk to meatloaf. Got the idea from meatballs, but for meatloaf I skip the bread and just mix it in...

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Totally agree with all the MSG users here. And if it makes you feel any better, the hysteria that started in the mid-70's about "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome" has been completely debunked, and has no scientific basis. It's nutritionally not that different from salt....so shake away, MSGers!

Speaking of salt and MSG, another helpful "secret" in the kitchen is standard issue teriyaki sauce (I use Kikkoman usually). When something needs a little dash of salinity, teriyaki has a richer flavor than salt or soy sauce in some applications, and is great when something just seems a little bland.

Another guilty trick is to use leftover dipping sauces from Vietnamese or Indian (e.g. tamarind or the green stuff) delivery to extend/enhance dishes that I'm cooking.

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I don't see what the big deal is about Better than Bouillon. If I'm making a dish that has other strong flavors, i.e. sausage, tomatoes, etc., I see no reason to use "good" homemade stock or broth, unless I have an abundance of it. Most of the time, the homemade stuff is reserved for soups and other dishes where the flavor can be appreciated.

Along that same line: frozen wine. :unsure: Of course it loses its nuances, but up against beef, mushrooms, etc., who's going to notice? No one in our household has a palate that will allow them to tell the difference.

Otherwise: cayenne and nutmeg, in very small amounts - not enough to be detected - but they make a real difference in a lot of dishes.

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Kitchen Bouquet is definitely the secret to getting jambalaya to come out looking right......

(Im from the school of thought that tomatoes have no place in a proper jambalaya)

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I use a spice mixture called Cavender's All Purpose Greek Seasoning. I doubt there's anything Greek about it -- it's mostly salt and glutamates in various forms, but it's an easy way to season all kinds of fish and poultry. I use it in tuna salad too.

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Each winter holiday season, I collect and store in my freezer a year's supply of beautiful, white, Goose Fat and cook with it guilt free. I am very fond of Spam and have it for breakfast or a snack often. In the spirit of this discussion, while I am a disciplined "scratch" food guy (I roast my own coffee beans, I make my own yogurt, I always have a jar of homemade Salt Pork on hand in my fridge along side my home-cured Guanciale) there is an oft used box of Sauzon Goya in my cupboard beside the 5 or so packets of Swiss Chalet dipping sauce for chicken.


"The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the object it loves."

- Carl Jung, Psychologist (1875 - 1961)

"Don't Play with your food."

- Parents, all over the world

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I use a spice mixture called Cavender's All Purpose Greek Seasoning. I doubt there's anything Greek about it -- it's mostly salt and glutamates in various forms, but it's an easy way to season all kinds of fish and poultry. I use it in tuna salad too.

Ooh! I use Cavender's too. It is awesome sprinkled on asparagus with EVOO. I roast the spears exactly 10 minutes at 400º, they end up mildly caramelized, plump, juicy and still just a bit crisp inside. It's also great on new potatoes with tons of butter and/or EVOO.


Edited by Adam Protter (log)

"The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the object it loves."

- Carl Jung, Psychologist (1875 - 1961)

"Don't Play with your food."

- Parents, all over the world

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Citric acid. When you don't want more liquid or a particular fruit flavor, just sour. Sumac powder (Penzey's) works too.

TJoe's Savory Broth packets (come in a box of 12).

Pickapeppa Sauce or Bufalo Salsa Chipotle for a mystery kick.

Frozen orange juice. I keep a can in the freezer to add to sauces (especially tomato-based) or dressings (fruit salad). Just scrape off some from the top to add a fruity tang. (Do not dilute, the point is more sweet/sour/orange flavor, less water.)

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TJoe's Savory Broth packets (come in a box of 12).

I used to always have them on hand in the pantry. How I miss them, and TJ.... :sad:

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Lawry's Seasoned Salt.

This has been a staple in our kitchen for all of my life. I like to sprinkle it on cottage cheese and its great to sprinkle on chicken thighs prior to putting them on the grill.

And, btw, welcome to eG!

Lawry's Salt was a staple in my grandmother's kitchen, and my father's too! I haven't thought about it in years.


Edited by David A. Goldfarb (log)

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I use potato flakes to thicken cream soups, particularly potato soups, that are too thin because the flakes really don't add any apparent flavor and certainly none of the "floury" flavor one gets with that.

I have been using potato starch instead of the old tradition of cornflour for a few years now. I can't think of any thickening task which is not better with potato starch. I first heard about it when quizzing the cook/owner of our favourite Taiwanese restaurant about how she got the thickened sauces to be so glossy and so clear. Potato starch was the answer.

While you can buy big bags of the stuff the Japanese grocery we frequent has a version in a shaker pack. The label says it only contains potato starch, but it seems to flow more easily than the version from the bag. The rest of the label is in Japanese so I'm really none the wiser - it could be pure potato starch which has been treated somehow to make it more granular. The good thing is that it can be shaken directly into what you are thickening - unlike cornflour which needs to be dissolved in water first or you get lumps.

Cheers,

Peter.

Sorry - forgot our US friends call cornflour corn starch.


Edited by blackp (log)

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I have a couple of secret ingredients. In addition to MSG, I like sodium inosinate and sodium guanilate for umami but I have never seen them sold at retail, only for food industry use. (Use 1 part of a blend of the two to 10 parts MSG) Another trick for soups and stews is to add a little Tianjin Preserved Vegetable at the beginning. This fermented vegetable product adds a unique complexity to foods.

For Dried Mushroom Powder, I always have on hand a gallon container filled with dried Shitaki from a Chinese grocery store and I just throw a couple in the spice grinder or even a blender. Most Chinese recipes call for soaking the mushrooms and then slicing them and using the slices in the food. I like to slice them dry with a very sharp 10" or 12" chef's knife and then throw the result in the pot. The slices aren't as pretty and there is a lot of crumbling, but you get all the flavor.

For pasta in a mushroom cream sauce, I grind a few dried mushrooms in the blender and throw the powder in the pasta cook water with a few whole dried shrooms and heat the water. When the whole mushrooms are softened through, I remove them and add the pasta. While the pasta cooks, I slice the whole dried mushrooms and add to butter sauteed sliced buttons and make the mushroom cream sauce. (A handful of fresh mushrooms bureed by being run through the blender or a processor and then sauteed before being added to the sauteed slices makes an even more strongly favored sauce) Using the powdered dried mushrooms in the cook water gives an earthy mushroom taste permeating the cooked pasta.

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I'll guiltily admit to using jars of precrushed ginger rather than grating fresh (because I invariably include some of my knuckles along with the ginger every single time), and I am a huge proponent of using dried Luteus mushrooms in everything, then fishing them out and keeping them for mushroom sauces (I don't powder mine.)

I thicken gravies and stews with quinua flour and tell nobody. I regularly throw nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon into savoury dishes. I use chervil, even though I could get the same results with parsley. I use yogurt in place of heavy cream in many sauces. No guilt at all there, though.


Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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