My cooking tastes bland, it has no flavour. I don’t know what to do to make my cooking taste good…
These are comments used regularly by clients when they come to a cookery class.
There are lots of things that you can do to fix this problem, the most common one is adding salt (we do a lot of tasting in my classes, discovering how a dish should taste).
However, a lot of people nowadays are reluctant to add salt due to the publicity around high salt intakes and heart disease, but your body still needs salt to maintain the mineral balance within it, so a little salt is good for you.
The other thing that you can do is to add herbs and spices to your dish, this adds flavour and means you probably won’t need to add as much salt to make the dish taste good.
I always tell clients to be generous with herbs and spices, if you don’t add enough, you won’t taste the flavours and your dish will be bland, needing more salt. However, add to much and the flavours can be over powering. It’s a balancing act that takes practice and depends on whether you’re using dried or fresh herbs, how long you’ve had that packet of ground spice in the cupboard or whether you’re grinding spices as you need them.
Courses for Cooks Tip:
Generally use half the amount of dried herbs to fresh.
Spices will have a stronger flavour if you buy whole ones and grind them as you need them. A mortar and pestle is an inexpensive item or an electric spice grinder if you want to treat yourself.
You can refresh whole spices by toasting them in a dry frying pan for a few minutes
Other things you can add to a dish to improve the flavour is some stock.
Homemade is easy, but takes a little time. Stock cubes or powder are great store cupboard staples to have, there are a whole host of varieties from powder, cubes and jelly pots to pouches.
If you’re finding it hard to find a commercial stock that you like, you’re trying to cut down on packaging or don’t like the list of ingredients on the packets, give my vegetable bouillon recipe a go, it’s really quick, easy and will keep in the fridge for about 6 months. This recipe is also a great way to use up herbs and vegetables that you can’t use up quickly enough.
The main thing is to use vegetables with good flavour and plenty of herbs.
I used carrots, celery, leeks and spring onions for my vegetable mix and rosemary, thyme, parsley, chives and tarragon for herbs.
Other vegetables which could be used include onions, fennel, parsnips, turnip, beetroot, celeriac, mushrooms, peppers – you want vegetables that have a good flavour.
If you vary the herbs, your stock will take on different flavours, the woody herbs of rosemary, thyme and sage are good staples as their flavour will last longer. Other herbs to try are bay leaves, oregano, dill, basil, mint and coriander.
Makes enough for 2 x 340g jars
Use about 2 tsp per 500ml water
500g fresh vegetables*
100g fresh herbs
2 large cloves garlic – peeled
- Roughly chop the vegetables and put into the bowl of a food processor with the herbs, garlic and salt. Whizz until it is a well-blended granular paste.
- Divide into 2 sterilised jars with vinegar proof lids, store in the fridge.