There is no magic, no mystery, about adding flavour to your food. It’s simply a matter of understanding how flavour works; on the tongue, with the nose, in your mind, with your mood. If I am not in the mood for cooking, then it never tastes right even though I want it to. But if I am on a roll, steaming along in the kitchen with the radio on and all the ingredients I need, then a little bit of magic comes into it. That magic affects everyone else. Then the flavours are proclaimed to be fabulous.
I guess its a bit like running when you get in the groove (I don’t run) or swimming when the stroke and the breath come naturally (I do swim!) It all just flows.
So there are certain things that to my mind add the magic. It’s the alchemy I talk about on the front page of this blog. And over the next few weeks I am going to add a few things I have learned then use the category #addingflavour so you can easily find them again . So watch out for new posts and tweets. The first is gremolata.
Gremolata is one of my favourite mixtures for adding flavour. I was introduced to it by Enzo, an Italian and maker of great pasta. He whispered conspiratorially, when I asked him what it was on his barbecued chicken that made it taste so wonderful, “Its rosemary and lemon zest and garlic and salt cara mia. it improves everything it touches, a bit like wine”!
Chop rosemary and lemon zest (I use a mezzaluna) then chop garlic then add seasalt. It is as simple as that. The proportions are always approximate and according to your own taste. There is no real ‘recipe’. In the picture at the top I have used a large handful of fresh rosemary leaves removed from the woody stalks, the rind of 2 lemons (using a zester, not a grater).
Then added six to eight fresh garlic cloves, chopped finely, and about 75g of seasalt. Mix it all together and you have a fine mixture that can be stored in a jamjar by the stove, and will keep really fresh and fragrant for about 2 weeks. I have tried keeping it in the fridge but the jar gets condensation in it and it loses its crispness.
How do I use it? Here’s a list, but you will find your own preferences I am sure.
- sprinkle on chicken before or after you roast it
- sprinkle on freshly grilled fish just before it is ready
- add to fresh tomato dishes
- add to a marinade for fish, meat, aubergines
- sprinkle on roast potatoes 5 minutes before they are done
- flavour squash or pumpkin or sweet potatoes when frying
- chop tomatoes, cucumber, spring onions and season with gremolata before adding a mustardy vinaigrette