A Conversation for How to Use Herbs and Spices in Cooking

Basil in the Ratatouille

Post 1

Mr Prophet (General Purpose Genre Guru)

Actually, basil in just about everything tomato-y is a good idea, especially if it is fresh basil. Dried basil is OK, but freah is better most supermarkets sell little pots these days, which if watered properly, and if you take the tips of the leaves rather than whole stems, can last for months, or even years. Fresh basil has a wonderful aroma, quite different from the dried stuff, and a little can go a long way. It is especially good in Italian dishes.

Salt and black pepper are also a must in most savoury recipes, but it is a matter of taste so always underuse if you're not sure, and supply these two condiments on the table. Also be wary of sea salt, as it can be much stronger than the usual table salt.

Try using dried herbs in the oil when pan-frying meat of chicken. You have to work fast to avoid burning them, but this gets the flavour into the meat. The herbs can begin to stick to the pan, but if you then add a sauce to the same pan, this will lift the herbs into the sauce.

Alternatively, rub the herbs into the meat along with salt and pepper before cooking.

As a general point, if in doubt, err on the side of caution and taste; you can always add more, but you can't take it out.

The Prophet

Sugar in the Ratatouille

Post 2

Fat Mike

I found that a small amount of sugar added to the ratatouille with the salt is quite nice too. Also a tiny (and I mean tiny) amount of Balsamic Vinegar.

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