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4 Tricks to Move Your Meals from Mediocre to Marvelous

Many regard the ability of chefs to produce world-class meals from even the simplest ingredients to be nothing short of miraculous, but with the right skills, anyone can turn an ordinary weeknight dinner into a restaurant-quality meal.

Add the right combination of herbs and spices, and you’ll be well on your way to memorable meals:

1. Get Creative with Leftovers

Made roast chicken last night and wondering what to do with the leftovers today? Why not make pulled chicken for tacos or enchiladas? Simply add lime juice, chili powder and a little beer to the chicken, braise gently in a saucepan, and voila, fifteen minutes later, you have delicious, tender meat ready to serve.

2. Take all the Shortcuts

If you’re in a rush, use dried garlic and onions to boost your meal’s flavor profile. While using fresh garlic and onion is first prize, the dried alternatives save time and effort (and you won’t be scrubbing your fingernails to get rid of the smell!) The dried options also add a slightly different flavor dynamic to your meal, which keeps things interesting.

3. Keep Your Dried Herbs on Hand

There are two main things to keep in mind when you’re using dried herbs:

  1. Don’t overdo it, and
  2. Get the timing right

If you’re using a recipe that calls for fresh herbs but you only have dried in the cupboard, you should use around half the amount that the recipe stipulates. This is because dried herbs have a more intense flavor profile due to the lower moisture content.

Heavier herbs, like rosemary, can be added at the beginning of the cooking process, but lighter herbs, like tarragon, should only be added towards the end. This is the best approach because the herb’s delicate flavor will be lost if added too early in the process.

4. Spices Benefit from a Good Fry Up

Rather than roasting spices, frying them at the beginning of a meal can really bring out their flavor. Homemade curry dishes usually start with sauteing chopped onion over medium-high heat. This is the perfect time to add your spice mix. Just keep in mind that you need to watch this step closely and the heat will release the flavors of the spices, but if they burn, they become bitter.

Cooking creatively doesn’t have to be difficult, it just takes a few tips from the pros to turn your meal from mediocre to marvelous. Happy cooking!

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