Loaves and Dishes

Wendi Spraker

Today’s article might be a little food-nerdy. If you aren’t into it, I’m sure there is something enticing in the column to the right (or maybe it’s the left, I never was very good with directions).

James Beard, the famous mentor of generations of chefs once said, “The secret of good cooking is, first, having a love of it…. If you’re convinced that cooking is drudgery, you’re never going to be good at it, and you might as well warm up something frozen.”

Nothing could be more true. That said, there is a great deal that we can do to learn some cooking techniques and skills that will make every recipe better. Then, once you are preparing delicious meals, it might seem like less of a drudgery, right?

For example, did you know that in savory dishes (like a main course meat dish, for example) there are some key flavor points you should work towards. The more of these that you are able to incorporate, the more flavor you will introduce into your cooking.

The main flavors that you want in your dishes are salt, fat, acid and heat (meaning something a little spicy). You’ll notice, if you have been on a special diet that limits one of these, your food may not be tasting very good to you at all.

There are other flavor points too, but these four are the main ones. The next time you are making your standard pot roast recipe, try it out! I’m sure your recipe has salt and fat, but does it have any acid and heat? Try adding a teaspoon full of cider vinegar to the roasting pan and try adding a sprinkle of some cayenne pepper (just a pinch) and see what happens!

Take a look at some of your other recipes and see where you can make sure these four elements turn up. You’ll be so surprised by how adding a teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar to a dish turns up the flavors without adding any “off” taste.

I would love to hear about your experiments, you can email me any time at wendi@loavesanddishes.net. If you would prefer to look through my recipe box, just stop by www.loavesanddishes.net and I’ll be happy to share any that I have.

Here is one of my favorite recipes that uses all of these flavors so that the taste of this dish is on point. You can mix up the dry ingredients ahead of time and keep it in the cabinet ready for any cookout! Then, just add the oil and wrap your steaks in plastic wrap or store in a zip lock and they’ll be ready to grill when you are.

“When you cook, you never stop learning, that is the fascination of it all!” (James Beard again). Have a great week!

Steak Rub for Grilling or Pan Frying

2 Tbs Kosher Salt

2 ½ Tbs Packed Brown Sugar

1 tsp crushed cayenne pepper

2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

½ tsp dried thyme

1 tsp black pepper

½ tsp cumin

½ cup vegetable oil

4 – 6oz beef steaks with higher fat content

Mix all of the ingredients together (except the steaks). Make sure there are no lumps or clumps (brown sugar likes to do that).Rub the mixture over the surface of the steak. Turn the steak over and repeat. Repeat for the other steaks.

Once each side of each steak has been seasoned with the spice mix, wrap the steaks individually in plastic wrap or place in a zip lock bag. Place the steaks on a plate and put into the refrigerator. Allow to set for 6 hours – 24 hours before cooking.

When ready to prepare, remove from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking and remove the plastic wrap/zip lock. Grill or pan fry as usual. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.


Wendi Spraker