Chef Tip: Make Every Dinner Brighter

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Chef Laura Frankel
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We cook and therefore we eat! Humans have gone from just surviving to creating art, with food and flavor.

Busy weeknight meals don't have to just be accomplished, they can be amazing and a reward for making it through another hectic day.

Balancing a dish is key to taking a dish from ho-hum to stellar. When a recipe is in balance, all the flavors are in harmony and nothing is awkwardly standing out. Sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami (savory) all in perfect union are a treat for the palate.

So, how do you take a dish from just barely there to WOW? One way, is to garnish it. Chef’s use garnishes to complement dishes, to hint at a flavor in the dish and to add another dimension.

CANDIED ORANGE PEEL GARNISH

Candied Orange Peel

One of my favorite garnishes that can do it all is Candied Orange Peel. Candied Orange peel has so many uses and sort of encompasses the perfect garnish. Like most perfect things, Candied Orange Peel is simple, really just 3 ingredients: orange peel, sugar and lime juice. The poetry is in the execution of the garnish.

BASMATI RICE WITH PISTACHIOS AND ORANGE PEEL

Basmati Rice with Pistachios

Orange peel by itself is very fragrant and as brightly flavored as it is colorful. But, it is bitter and not palatable to most of us.

Conquer the bitterness by a quick blanch in simmering water and then a brief cooking session with sugar calms down the bitterness and holds all the bright and refreshing flavors. The end result is glistening, toothy, brightly-flavored strips of citrus, ready to add flavor to: fish, chicken, rice dishes, vegetables, cut fruit, Asian dishes (especially Szechuan Ginger-Orange Beef), cupcakes, carrot cake, doughnuts and more.

Try my simple rice recipe to see how much the orange peel can brighten any dish and feel free to substitute the orange peel with grapefruit, lemon, lime, or blood orange, they each bring color and freshness to any dish.