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post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I posted earlier on these forums with the following "base" recipe:

 

The stove is on full: Mustard + Cumin seeds are added to oil

Diced Garlic and ginger are added when the mustard seeds stop popping

30 seconds later one chopped Onion is added to the mix

Once the onion caramalises, I add 1/3 chopped capsicum (known as "bell pepper" in America) and one chopped carrot (small pieces)

I now turn the stove down to a low heat.

 

I got some really good feedback. In particular, I now use coriander seeds in my cooking as well. As well as increasing the overall amount "flavour-giving" ingredients.

 

I recently started adding 10 fenugreek seeds along with the mustard and cumin. I have not really noticed a difference in flavour.

 

Now I am looking for a different flavour. Does anyone have any good ideas to make a new base recipe? Is base recipe even a term used in cooking?

 

I also bought some fennel powder but have no idea what to do with it. Any ideas would be appreciated. Would fennel powder go with the above base recipe I gave? I have already tried it - but can't tell what is giving my food the taste. It could be improving my food, but it could be doing nothing, or making it less tasty. I would not know.

 

Thanks for any help.

post #2 of 13

A base recipe for what?  Each dish and each cuisine has its own base recipe.  Based on your chosen set of base ingredients I'd surmise that you are trying to make a south asian dish but you still won't tell us what dish you are making. 

 

You are certainly not making a mediteranean dish, which is mostly what I cook.  In the mediterranean cuisine simplicity is king.  I am happy with a little bit of onion, garlic, and olive oil as the base of my food.  The flavor of whatever I add to it (chicken, fish, pork, pasta, or veggies etc) shines.  You don't need to throw every spice you have in your food, and frankly if you're still not getting enough "flavor" out of your food then I'm more inclined to say that maybe your palette needs to be refined.  A simple piece of chicken or a steamed carrot have their own unique and special taste that needs little enhancement in my opinion. 

 

Instead of throwing all your spices in your food, why don't you tell us what you want to cook, and we can suggest some recipes.

 

Fennel is a wonderful little seed, I like to toast it and then crack it.  It goes very well with pork or chicken and is often found in sausage.  I like to rub it on pork roasts along with lemon and garlic.  I include it in my bbq seasoning often. 

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #3 of 13

Also, flavor is built on good technique, not from the addition of numerous ingredients.  Are you getting a good sear out of your meats?  Are you seasoning your food?  Are you using the right pans and flavorful stock?  Are you allowing your proteins to come to room temperature before cooking them, and are you letting them rest before slicing in to them?  Are you buying fresh produce that is in season?  Are you grinding fresh pepper or are you using pre-ground tasteless pepper?  Are you cooking at the right temperature? 

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your reply.

 

I am not trying to make any dish. I have only recently got into cooking. I would not know the differences between the cuisines. Hence the name "badcook12". I am merely trying to cook something editable at this stage - something I have accomplished with my current "base recipe". In addition, I am also trying to figure out what things (herbs and spices) taste like.

 

I do tend to like curries, I often refer to this as "Indian" food, when in reality it could be any type of cuisine that makes curries.

 

I also like/find it easy to make chilli - only the one type though.

 

With regard to my food not having flavour - it does. What I meant was I am looking for another flavour. At the moment I am eating a variation of the same flavour everyday. This is okay for now, but it is good to have variety.

 

I do not usually add vegetables or meat to what I am making in the frying pan (what I would consider a stir fry or sometimes a curry sauce). I always have these separate. There is a reason for this. I am still trying to learn what goes together and what doesn't. So the sauce/stir fry is sometimes ruined. Once I over marinated my meat with yogurt (my flatmates continue to tease me about this), another time I added to much coconut milk, then there was my discovery of what gloves taste like etc etc.

 

With regard to my palette, I enjoy food cooked by others and from restaurants, I also enjoy my own food - after several members of this forum pointed out that I was adding very small amounts (in relative terms) of garlic, ginger, cumin seeds, etc etc to rather large dishes.. However, I would still like to be able to vary what I am cooking.

 

Today I cooked a curry and it turned out great, unfortunately, I cannot tell what is making this one so good. It may have been the fenugreek seeds - or it could have been the paprika, or both.

 

I have obtained a book on cooking. I have studied the parts on different cooking methods and about how different types of heat affect food (conduction, convection, radiant). Learned how to chop/dice garlic, ginger, vegetables correctly. I have read the part on building a flavour profile to, unfortunately it was not very informative in this area.

 

I have several pans, from what I have read, my aluminium pan would be the best as it is quite thick (all the rest are stainless steel).

 

To sum up:

        1. My food has only one type of flavour but tastes good.

        2. I wish to vary the flavour of my food, but do not know what goes with what.

        3. I am not aiming to make any particular type of cuisine, my base recipe is south asian purely by accident. I do not know enough about food to have a genuine preference - I only really know of curries and stir fry.

 

Thank you.

post #5 of 13

I don't know what you grew up eating, but breaking out what makes a curry good is quite difficult for people who grew up on a western palette. The spices, combinations and treatments are difficult to pick out and say "This is the key flavornote of this dish". 

 

While I'm happy to see you trying to cook food yourself and food you like, you'll need a lot more experience cooking in general before you'll be able to look at an Indian recipe and understand if it's a good one or not. It's not just the spicing. I think you'll gain some insight from this thread on cooking without recipes.

 

garam masala just means spice mix. It varies from cook to cook and regionally, but is generally of sweeter spices and less heat than what in the west is called curry powder.   Quite often, grocers carry a pre-mixed version of Garam Masala in the spice aisle and I bet you'd have some success looking there. There are a few different versions of garam masala in this thread as well as other useful discussion.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #6 of 13

Well, if you keep putting ginger, garlic and chili in everything you make then everything is going to taste like ginger, garlic, and chili.  The ingredients you are using are a good base for certain dishes, but they are not a base for every dish in the world.  If you want to taste something different you will have to try making something different.

 

You say you don't know the differences between the cuisines?  I don't know what you mean.  Can you identify which countries spaghetti or schnitzel comes from?  There must be something you enjoy eating at restaurants, what do you order?  What are you interested in making?  Here there are many of us who have experience with cooking lots of different kinds of foods, we all have different talents.  I really enjoy cooking Italian and Greek food, I focus mostly on mediterranean flavors, I am terrible at baking but I have good experience cooking southern American food like BBQ.

 

I didn't start cooking until about 10yrs ago and when I started I began by making the things that I wanted to eat like pasta and roasted dishes.  I got better as I went along but mostly because I was willing to try new methods of cooking.  I learned how to make a good omelet, if you can cook an egg you can cook anything.  But I stress that nobody can help you unless we know what you want to make.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #7 of 13

?????????  What is your question??  You go from foods, to spices to, types of pans, and types of ovens, and back to flavor profiles and Bases???

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #8 of 13

Lets start here, What is your ethnic background, where do you live and what did your mother feed you while growing up?

post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your replies.

 

What is your ethnic background?

 

I am a European New Zealander.

 

Where do you live?

 

New Zealand

 

What did your mother feed you while growing up?

 

Roast lamb and veges, roast chicken and veges, roast pork and veges, roast beef and veges, chilli con carne, sausages, salad, pizza, macaroni and cheese, rice dishes.

 

What is your question??  You go from foods, to spices to, types of pans, and types of ovens, and back to flavor profiles and Bases???

 

My original question is about new flavours. I was merely demonstrating that I am also making an effort to learn stuff on my own - people advised me in earlier threads to look at cook books. I wanted to show that I was taking that advice on board and further help would not be wasted/ignored. I imagine that if people know that I am listening to their suggestions, they will be more likely to offer advice.

 

There must be something you enjoy eating at restaurants, what do you order?

 

Growing up we only really went to Indian restaurants. I ordered the same dish everytime - Rogan Josh. More recently I have tried Biriyani and chicken Tikka Masala. I like all three.

 

Can you identify which countries spaghetti or schnitzel comes from?

 

Spaghetti comes from Italy, schnitzel comes from Germany. I have not tried these things from Restaurants. Only growing up. My mother is an excessively cautious cook. She overcooks all meat - till it is dehydrated. She does not use salt, and only very small amounts of oil. She leaves out many ingredients. Our meat was literally dehydrated when it was served to us... I have only just begun to discover that food besides Indian (that I tried at restaurants) and chilli con carne (that came in a packet) tastes good. I am not exaggerating here. I grew up on food that was excessively over cooked and had no taste.

 

I also discovered at a young age, I like sheppards pie - after trying it at someones house.

 

I only recently tried a non-overcooked steak. It was amazing. I had never experienced a steak like that before. Growing up it would have been put in a frying pan without oil and cooked until it was crunchie.

 

So I really don't know what these cuisines taste like in reality.

 

What are you interested in making?

 

I am interested in discovering new tastes. That I can make cheaply. I cannot realistically tell you what I really like, I have hardly tried anything that is cooked properly to judge. At this time, I cannot afford to go to a restaurant and find out what tastes good. I recently left a job - as well as being a student. It is hard to find a job at Christmas time. I usually run out of food by the end of the week.

 

Well, if you keep putting ginger, garlic and chili in everything you make then everything is going to taste like ginger, garlic, and chili.

 

This is the only thing I know. Someone suggested (and I followed their advice), that I look at cook books and see what other ingredients are used in food and in what proportion. However, I don't know which ones are "must have ingredients", so for example, knowing that some foods have cloves, cinnimon, and brocolli in, doesn't mean that I can replace ginger, garlic, and chilli with cloves, cinnnimon, and brocolli.

 

The key thing to keep in mind is that I can only really afford to buy generic ingredients. As far as I can tell, garlic, ginger, and chilli are all generic ingredients. 

 

Thank you for taking the time to reply to my questions. I will read through the links you provided.

post #10 of 13

Working on your own like this will be very slow going.

If you are content, then carry on.

If not, look for and join some sort of "dining club" (this exposes you to many diferent cuisines in a non-threatening environment).

I did this once and still occ have a fancy restaurant meal with some of those members.

Try to find a formal "cooking" class at a smallish uni and take it for fun, not credit hours.

I live near a huge city that boasts an "adult" learning center (just for fun and your edification ;-) .

This center offers short term (4-6 wks) classes on everything from basket weaving (no-really) to cooking classes for just about every cuisine out there.

I promise that if you seek out one (or all!) of these opportunities you will not only learn what good food tastes like, but also what you like and how to prepare it.

 

Merry Christmas!

 

mimi

post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Badcook12 View Post

. I recently left a job - as well as being a student. It is hard to find a job at Christmas time. I usually run out of food by the end of the week.

 

 

 

You were shown a certain way of eating most of your life and your mother enjoyed cooking a 'certain' way using the spices she thought were essential. Your taste buds are blooming so to say and I get where you are coming from.

 

You talk about spices and using them as a base for dishes. This is a correct but at the same time there are other blends of spices that lend well to various dishes.

 

Since you are on a fixed budget for food right now, getting simple dishes to taste good is easier than what you think. Making dishes with rice, potatoes, pasta, cheaper cuts of meats and various vegetables are usually all attainable.

I don't know if you can do this but is there any way you can get a part-time job at at restaurant ? A place that will allow you to do ANY positions in a kitchen ? It can help you get work and at the same time it could possibly give you a bit of an education as to how dishes are prepared and what spices are used for each one and at the same time there are benefits to working in a kitchen....you will never go hungry.

 

Go to your local library and get books that include step by step preparations. Books on spices, learn about their characteristics and profiles .

Surf the net for you tubes or websites that can give you more info on other dishes that maybe you would like to try.

 

You are one of the fortunate ones that had the opportunity to taste those flavors growing up. Now look at other flavors, take for example Middle Eastern spices, it's a world on its own. You have spices that can make a dish pop in your mouth (used in the right proportions) eg: cumin, nutmeg, cardamom, tumeric (color) , sumac (replace lemon flavor- a bit bitter) caraway, allspice, anis, fenugreek...............look up these spices and read about them.

 

Here from a  random website on chinese flavors :

 

The Chinese flavour

 
Chilli paste - A peppery condiment that varies in intensity depending on the brand. Test before adding to food.
 
Five-spice powder - A blend of cinnamon, fennel, cloves, star anise and Szechuan peppercorns. Often used in marinades or as a seasoning for soups, stews and stir-fries.
 
Hoisin sauce - A dark, thick, sweet and salty sauce made from fermented soybeans. Use it in stir-fries and as a condiment served at the table.
 
Hot mustard - A very vinegary mustard used as a dipping sauce.
 
Sesame oil - Light sesame oil has a slightly nutty flavour; add it sparingly at the end of cooking. Dark sesame oil is fragrant and intensely flavoured. Nut oils tend to turn rancid in a hot environment so store in a cool place.
 
Soy sauce - The most important and commonly used seasoning in China and all of Asia, this salty sauce made from fermented soybeans comes in several varieties. Light soy sauce is thinner and saltier. Dark soy sauce is thicker and less salty. Chinese black
soy sauce and Japanese tamari are very dark and sweet.
 
Star anise - This pretty star-shaped spice has a strong aniseed flavour. It comes from a Chinese evergreen tree. Use in soups and stews.
 
Here is another website- something for everyone.  : http://spicesinc.com/t-list-of-spices.aspx just to show you how vast the world of spices really is.
 
I look forward to reading more about your new creations and the spices you enjoy.
 
Petals.
 
 

Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(165 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
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Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(165 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
Reply
post #12 of 13

I understand what you mean by "base recipe".  What you are describing sounds like a base recipe for a curry to me:  Pureed aromatic veg cooked down in oil, add spice, add liquid, add principal element and garnish.  If you are cooking meat, lamb for example, cube the lamb, brown in oil, remove and reserve, add veg to pot and cook in lamb fat, at finish reheat lamb in base.  

Aromatic veg can be carrots, onion, celery, peppers, spinach, tomato, kale, sorrel... even fruit.

liquid can be meat or veg stock, coconut milk, sour cream, yogurt, cream, or combinations of all. (do not boil sour cream and yogurt, avoid over heating coconut milk)

Principal element is usually meat, which is usually browned, usually marinaded.  Can be pressed, marinaded, browned tofu.

The quality of fat or oil you use (quality butter, sesemi oil, mustard oil, crisco, goose fat...) always has a profound effect on the final product.

Spice... welllll...... Thai, North India, South India.  The easiest thing to do is get Mae Ploy curry paste because it is wholesome, healthy, and already perfect.  Unless cooking curry is what you do for a living, I don't think you can really beat Mae Ploy.

 

http://www.thekitchn.com/product-review-mae-ploy-curry-127730

 

The above style of cooking is pretty much the opposite of Japanese and French, where the flavors of the food are developed through careful cooking techniques.  Typical in French cooking only salt and white pepper are added, extra flavor (and nutrients) are extracted from throw-away items like bones, heads and peels, then refined into a sauce.  Fresh herbs, wine, and the heads-and-peels make the "base".  To compare:  In carrots vichy you taste mostly carrots, in curry carrots you taste mostly curry.  Both are good!  In Japanese cooking sauce is almost never used, and very special attention is paid to the handling and cooking of food - mostly in such a way to preserve and amplify its natural flavor.  How do you preserve and amplify natural flavor? = All cuts uniform, gentle heat and salt -  to put it most simply.  

 

CDF

post #13 of 13

Since you are looking for a different, very flavorful and inexpensive cuisine to experiment with, I would suggest seeking out a Middle Eastern or Lebanese cookbook or two. It's amazing what can be done to very inexpensive beans and lentils, among other things, with good olive oil, salt, lots of garlic and fresh lemon juice and very little else. The key is to throw away any timidity when it comes to the garlic and lemon. Throw in some fresh vegetables and little bits of chicken, fish or meat and the variety of delicious dishes available to people on tight budgets is vast. It's simple, healthy, inexpensive, tasty and filling food--all concerns for someone with lively taste buds who sometimes runs out of food before a week is out. A strategically planned pot of cooked dried beans or lentils can get you through several days.

 

There are many flavorful variations on lentil soup alone. Mujadarra is another lentil dish, with rice and lots of carmelized onions. Chick peas are used in hummus, in salads, in casseroles and soups. Fava beans make ful medammes--the national dish of Egypt. (All of those spellings are variable, depending on the method of translation from Arabic.) 

 

And those are just a few of the meatless (read: very cheap)  dishes. If you can afford bits of chicken or lamb now and then, you are golden.

 

I looked to see if there were any Middle-Eastern cooking blogs in NZ or AU that could give you measurements in metric but my US based IP address just kept finding me sites based in the US. You might have better luck Googling from NZ.

 

One based in the US with simple recipes is  Hommuswtabbouli.blogspot.com

 

ETA: I just read the above recommendation for Mae Ploy curry pastes if you want to go in the direction of Thai food. That and a bottle of fish sauce will take you a long way inexpensively and deliciously. I speak from experience.

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