Fresh ingredients do make a difference. Unlike many other cooks, we always specify such items as freshly ground black pepper. If you ever grind your own black or white pepper, you’ll never buy another box of ground pepper. If you don’t have a good pepper mill, indulge yourself. It’s a must in food preparation.
There is no substitute for fresh garlic. And dehydrated onion does not impart the sweet flavor of fresh onion.
You will find a world of difference in a dish made with fresh lemon, lime or orange juice rather than processed juice.
In addition, we make our own sauces. While you can sometimes substitute a commercial product, you won’t get the same flavor.
You may not believe it, but crumbs made from fresh crackers will be so much tastier than prepared ones. Use unsalted or salted saltines.
In recipes calling for bread, we use Italian bread. It is a simple, basic bread containing only flour, yeast, water and salt. It takes just a second to make fresh bread crumbs in the food processor. For dry bread crumbs, first toast the bread, then process the crumbs.
And cheeses! Once you use freshly grated cheese, you will always grate your own, whether cheddar, Parmesan or any other variety.
Always use real wine, not cooking wine, in your foods. It doesn’t need to be expensive. Buy a bottle of dry white wine such as chenin blanc, not a fruity or sweet one. Most cooking wines contain preservatives and salt. And you have to wonder how long they were aged – maybe 10 minutes?
Does it take more time to use fresh products? Yes, a little more. But try making a few recipes with fresh ingredients. Once you do, you’ll see what we mean. And your family will appreciate the difference. Besides, we’re dealing with seafood and it deserves the best ingredients.
Contributed by Joyce Taylor