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Instant flavour boosters

Instant flavour boosters
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If you ask us, ‘bland’ is the worst thing anyone can call our food. We spend so much time planning menus, carefully measuring ingredients, and cleaning up afterward that our food had better be flavourful! Fortunately, you don’t have to scrap a bland meal entirely. Adding a few ingredients will transform your entree or appetiser from ‘meh’ to ‘magnificent’. Whether you want to take a so-so dish to new heights or add some pizzazz to fail-safe favourites, here are 12 flavour boosters everyone should have in their kitchen. Ready to raise the bar even higher?

Vanilla extract

Vanilla extract
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Consider vanilla extract the gift that keeps on giving. A consistent crowd-pleaser, it’s sweet enough to satisfy your craving without adding mounds of sugar. Go ahead, add a couple of drops to plain milk, a fruit smoothie or porridge.

Worcestershire sauce

Worcestershire sauce
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There’s a reason Worcestershire sauce is one of the most versatile condiments around: it starts as anchovies fermented in vinegar and includes chili peppers, garlic, onions, salt and sugar. While the thought of combining sweet, savory, and, well…anchovies…may sound cringe-worthy, we have to admit it’s delicious in meatballs and Bloody Marys.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms
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Vegetarians are no strangers to this flavour-boosting commodity. Mushrooms are packed with umami (one of the five basic tastes, along with sweetness, saltiness, sourness and bitterness), which is commonly associated with meats. Whether you eat ’em solo or add a portabella or two to your lasagne, you’ll wind up with a savoury – and dare we say meaty – meal.

Give breakfast a new twist with this savoury version of French toast.

Balsamic vinegar

Balsamic vinegar
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Make no mistake, balsamic vinegar isn’t just good on salads. It works with everything. Seriously, everything. The perfect blend of sweet and savoury, you can use it on chicken, fruit or even in iceblocks! Choose vinaigrette, glaze or syrup…the culinary sky’s the limit here.

This classic Italian sandwich with a dash of Balsamic makes a tasty vegetarian meal.

Mustard

Mustard
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Tomato sauce may be the condiment of choice for hamburgers and fries, but when it comes to cooking, it’s all about the mustard. It doesn’t matter if you use a bold Dijon or spicy yellow, mustard is a great addition to salads, sandwiches and marinades. And did you know it’s great on seafood?

A dash of Dijon mustard gives this watercress salad a real lift.

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Citrus

Citrus
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Anyone looking to add some zing to their dinner should pick up some lemons, limes or oranges. In addition to giving any dish an indisputably fruity flair, the acid in citrus can help balance and enhance your meal’s flavour.

A squeeze of orange gives this pasta recipe a fresh new flavour.

Vegetable broth

Vegetable broth
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If you want to add nuance to steamed broccoli, cook it in vegetable broth. This trick lends a touch of flavour that won’t overpower the rest of the meal. (Meat-eaters can substitute chicken broth or beef broth, if preferred.)

Leeks

Leeks
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We love onions as much as the next person, but the smelly breath that follows isn’t doing anyone any favours. Consider trading onions for leeks. They’re stench-free, plus they’ll add a subtle sweetness to any meal.

Cayenne pepper

Cayenne pepper
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Your spice rack is a treasure trove of flavour boosters, but we have a soft spot for cayenne powder. The spicy pepper is mind-blowingly good when cooked into zesty chilli, but did you know it’s also good for you? Cayenne is an anti-inflammatory, so blend some into a mug of hot water and fresh lemon juice to get a jump on those early cold symptoms.

Looking for shortcuts to save you time in the kitchen? Look no more.

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