With the sun shining and temperatures rising, you might be feeling inspired to try out some new ideas in the kitchen. Spring is the perfect time to spice up your cooking, and the following tips should help you to create an array of delicious dishes.
Stock up on store cupboard staples
Whether you want to test your skills preparing plump spiced pears, a zingy curry, flavoursome fajitas or anything else, you’ll need the right store cupboard staples. To cover the basics, make sure you have black peppercorns, bay leaves, chilli powder, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, coriander, ginger and paprika. Other useful ingredients include star anise, cardamom, garam masala and saffron. Even if you already have jars of some of these spices in your cupboards, you might be best off replacing them with fresher versions. Bear in mind that these ingredients are at their best when you use them within three months of purchase.
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Of course, you’ll need somewhere to store these jars and packets, and so a decent sized spice rack is a must. To save space and keep your countertops clear, you can buy special racks that attach to the inside of doors or cabinets. To find out more about these handy spice solutions, you can visit websites like www.solidwoodkitchencabinets.co.uk. It’s always a good idea to get more storage that you think you’ll need so that you can keep adding to your collection without getting short of space.
Extract maximum flavour
Unless you want to fall into the category of a cook who has all the gear but no idea, it’s important to understand how to extract maximum flavour from your new array of spices. To enhance their aroma and bring out their taste, you can toast them gently in a dry frying pan. This takes just 30 seconds or so, but it can make a big difference to the quality of your dishes. Shake the pan as your spices toast, and once you can smell a nutty aroma, transfer the ingredients into a mortar or spice grinder, allow them to cool and then break them down into a powder. You might be surprised by how much of a difference this simple procedure makes to your meals.
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Don't be afraid to try new culinary concoctions
It’s easy to get stuck in a cooking rut and rely on the same recipes time after time. So, to get inspired behind the stove, it’s important to make an effort to try new dishes. This will also give you the perfect opportunity to test your new spices. At this time of year, light, fresh dishes are ideal. You can try creating everything from marinated barbecue meats to spicy salads, punchy prawns and delicately flavoured desserts.
Once you've mastered the art of using spices, you’ll be able to test out an array of new culinary concoctions.