Why You Should Buy Good CondimentsPosted: February 27, 2016
I am not boasting when I say that I am a good cook. Just ask my husband or any of my friends or dinner guests who cherish an invitation to our table. I was not born this way, it took years of loving food to get this way. One might deduce that loving the taste of food automatically makes someone a good cook, but I know plenty of foodies who have gotten that way without ever heating a pan in their own kitchens.
After all these years of cooking I have become an intuitive cook, meaning that I can just throw things together based on what I have on hand and it usually tastes good. That level of kitchen confidence comes only after years of tasting lots of different food combinations. Since I can’t teach that I try and write recipes down now because I almost never would remember how or even what I made in the past, when someone begs me for a recipe.
Not everything I make is gourmet or complicated, but I try to make everything yummy. When someone asks me for cooking advice my best and easiest thing to tell people is to buy interesting condiments and use them to spice up a simple protein like a piece of grilled chicken or fish.
I am not talking about basic mayonnaise or ketchup, but coriander sauce, mango chutney or the Myer lemon relish I used tonight on salmon. I pan cooked a piece of salmon with nothing but salt and pepper and once I plated it I dabbed a spoonful of the fragrant lemon sauce on top. It basically was a two-ingredient dish, since salt and pepper are never counted in the recipe world, but it was fabulously tasty. The best part is it took barely five minutes to make.
So my suggestion for expanding your cooking repertoire is just peruse the gourmet condiment aisle at the grocery store. Pick out something you have never tasted, read the label; it usually will have a suggested use. Try it! Most condiments don’t make it to your local store without a bunch of people tasting it and liking it, so there is little risk for you to buy it. Put it on chicken because everything goes on chicken. Suddenly you will be a gourmet cook and it only took two-ingredients.
If you discover you like that condiment you may want to learn to make it from scratch, but only if you really want to learn to be a better cook. But it is no crime to just continue to buy jars of relishes, sauces, spices, oils and other good ingredients to help add flavor to your simple foods. People will consider you a gourmet cook and you never have to tell them how you do it.