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Both experienced and novice cooks look for new methods and recipes to add to their culinary arsenal. BareFoot Foodie is delighted to present recipes and instructional cooking videos to assist you.

Sauces and Seasonings

Make perfect gravy for turkey. Looking for the perfect gravy to have with your holiday turkey? A great tip from the pros is to use tea! Boil a large pot of water and when you put the turkey in the oven add two orange pekoe tea bags. Let the tea steep on top of the stove until the turkey is done then add it to the juices in the pan. Thicken with a mixture of flour and water or cornstarch.

Keep chicken broth handy. Not only is chicken broth an easy way to add flavor to sauces, it can also be used to add moisture to dry stuffing. And the unsalted variety can be used to tame over-salty gravy without diluting the flavor.

A flavorful alternative to sour cream. Out of sour cream, or looking for something different? Consider a quick crème fraiche, which can be made from one cup of buttermilk and three cups of heavy cream. Mix them together and let them sit on your counter for about three days. Then store it in the refrigerator for as long as two weeks.

Reduce the power of garlic and onions. Sometimes you don’t want a strong garlic or onion taste. Get a milder flavor by sauténg them in butter or olive oil for a few minutes prior to adding them to other foods.This will release their natural sweetness and give a wonderful flavor.

An easy way to peel ginger root. To easily peel ginger root, place it in the freezer for an hour before use and then remove the skin with a sharp knife. Or, try using the edge of a spoon when peeling room temperature ginger root.

Use caramelized onions to add flavor. Caramelized onions are a delicious way to add flavor to mashed potatoes, vegetables, soups and sauces. Luckily they can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator so they are available when you need them. Do this by chopping onions fine and adding them to melted butter or margarine. Cook at a very low heat until the onions are brown. Be sure there is always lots of butter or the onions will become crispy. Once caramelized, transfer them to a plastic container while the butter is still liquid and store them in the refrigerator. Once solidified it’s easy to take a spoonful whenever you need it!

Fix lumpy sauces. Is your sauce too lumpy? Remove it from the heat immediately and toss it in your food processor to smooth out the lumps and blend the flavors. Add some hot water if necessary to assist with the removal of the lumps. Then reheat as needed and serve!

Using pre-made tomato sauce. Store bought tomato sauce is an easy alternative to making your own. But sometimes it is too acidic or too salty for the dish you’re using it in. A great tip to cut the acidity of tomato sauce is to add about one-eighth of a cup of sugar. To reduce saltiness, add a little cream.

Use wine to add a unique flavor to dishes. Wine is another way of flavoring your dishes, just like herbs and spices. There are really no rules except those dictated by your own taste. Generally, the kind of wine to use in a dish is the kind you would most enjoy drinking with it. White wines are usually served with fish and white meats, and red wines with dark meats. Don’t worry about the finished dish containing alcohol; wine loses its alcohol when simmered long enough so no trace of alcohol remains. An easy way to create a sauce is to deglaze your pan using wine. If needed, thicken with a little cornstarch.

Make your own salad dressings. Store bought salad dressings are loaded with extra calories and preservatives. And once opened they often go bad long before they’re used up. A great alternative is to make your own dressings. For a tasty vinaigrette, mix ¾cup of oil with ¼cup of vinegar and season with salt, pepper and even some Dijon mustard. For other variations try adding honey, balsamic vinegar, orange juice, maple syrup, garlic or lime juice. With a little experimentation you’ll be surprised how many great tastes you can create!

Stock, Broth, Bouillon and Consommé. In recipes calling for chicken or beef stock, you can use homemade or canned stock prepared from purchased cubes or powdered bases. (Be sure to watch the amount of salt you later add to your recipe though because some cubes and powdered bases are very salty). Stock, broth and bouillon are basically the same – the clear liquid produced when meat, bones and vegetables are simmered in water to extract flavor and then strained. Stock can be made from meat, poultry, fish or vegetables. Consommé is stronger than bouillon; it is stock enriched with more meat and vegetables and then concentrated and clarified. Now you know!

Quickly and easily thicken gravy. Once the roast or turkey is cooked, there’s always the task of making the gravy and waiting while it thickens. Luckily, there is a quicker way! Thicken your gravy by adding a tablespoon of instant mashed potatoes. Start there, and add more if needed until it’s the right consistency.

Dried herbs versus fresh ones. Fresh herbs are best for flavor, but if unavailable, use about one-third as much dried. If a recipe doesn’t specify fresh or dried, you can assume it means dried, since dried herbs are much more commonly used. Whichever herbs you choose, if you’re unsure of the amount, start with just a little, taste often and add more during cooking. And to ensure that you’re using dried herbs with the maximum amount of flavor, replace them every three months.

Add garlic to oils and vinegars. Oils and vinegars that have been flavored with garlic provide a quick and easy way to add some punch to salad dressings, stir fries and meats. Once prepared they can keep indefinitely and can be grabbed whenever you want to add a little flavor. To make your own simply peel garlic cloves and cut them in thirds. Put them in the bottom of the vinegar or oil shaker and leave for a few weeks before using.

Use marinades to add flavor. A good marinade will add lots of extra flavor and juices to meats and vegetables. But be careful not to marinade longer than the recipe calls for. Some foods, seafood in particular, break down when marinated in acidic ingredients such as vinegar, wine or citrus fruit juices. The result can be a mushy mess that no one wants to eat!

Make thicker gravy. For thicker gravy, mix some butter and flour in a frying pan and cook until the mixture is smooth and thick. Add it to your hot gravy for a thick and rich texture.