lemon zestWhat does summer taste like to you? To me it's fresh corn on the cob, garden-ripe tomatoes, grilled chicken, and just-picked berries. But I have some favorite "secret" ingredients I add to my cooking that bring out the essence of summer flavor. Well, my idea of the essence of summer flavor, anyway.
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Just by adding one super simple ingredient, you can kick up your favorite dishes into something special that will keep everyone guessing. Here are my top six favorite "secret" ingredients for summer cooking.
Lemon zest -- A bit of grated lemon peel (just the yellow, not the white pith) adds a bright, sharp, citrusy flavor. Add it to marinades when you grill, salad dressing, and even fruit desserts.
Fresh mint -- Any fresh herb tastes like summer to me, but especially mint. I like whole leaves tossed into a salad, sprigs in drinks from lemonade to mojitos, and blended with garlic for a steak sauce.
Grated fresh ginger -- Another bright, sharp flavor. This is also great in marinades and desserts. I love it in drinks, too; grate it, wrap it in cloth, and then squeeze the juice out.
Grapefruit juice -- Whisk with sesame or olive oil and a touch of honey for a refreshing salad dressing. Or mix with a little vodka (and that sprig of mint) for a classic greyhound.
Cachaça -- This liquor made from sugarcane is the hot new star from Brazil. Use it to make a traditional caipirinha, which is a lot like a mojito. Or use it with that fresh ginger for a super simple grilled pork glaze.
Chili flakes -- Add a little heat to your food with just a few shakes of chili flakes. Try it over grilled corn on the cob, on fish, and to wake up your potato salad.
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What are your favorite summer "secret" ingredients?
Image via grongar/Flickr
Written by Adriana Velez on CafeMom's blog, The Stir.
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