I automatically look at every recipe and think – how I can make it better?  Taste better? Healthier? Reduce steps? What do I need to change so my family will like it?

Here are just a few things I will do to improve a recipe:

Toast

Toasting nuts, bread, tortillas and spices will improve ANY recipe. I toast spices and nuts in a pan or in the oven. And dry toasting a tortilla before making a taco … changes everything.

Use Fresh vs. Dry Herbs

Fresh herbs will always make a dish better. It’s not a one for one swap, so I taste and adjust.

Caramelize

Caramelizing onions may take a few minutes longer but the outcome of your dish, stew, chili, frittata… is delectable.   But think about caramelizing anything… and everything; mushrooms (by cooking them on high heat), carrots, or meat. The fond, those little caramel pieces of meat on the bottom of the pan after you have browned it will add tremendous flavor to your soup or dish. I never leave them in the pan!

Buy Fruits & Vegetables In-Season

I try hard to buy local and in-season. Produce will always be fresher, tastier, healthier and cheaper when you buy them in-season.  You will be richly rewarded for catching produce at the peak of their season. We typically have a heads up when sweet corn is on our CSA box.  And since refrigeration just accelerates the sugar to starch process, sweet corn goes right into the pot the moment it is brought home.

Add a Squeeze of Lemon… or Two

There are few recipes that a squeeze of lemon will not improve; a brothy soup, roasted chicken, pan fried fish,… A little lemon juice (acid) will brighten flavors.  I have been making a lot of Lake Superior white fish lately.  Salt, pepper, dredge it in flour.. pan fry it in a bit of butter and olive oil… and then I squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top JUST before serving.  Heard from the dinner table:  “Oh MOM… this is SO good!”