A swirl of truffle oil or walnut oil on green beans is really quite nice. Some toasted slivered almonds or walnuts dressed with truffle salt is delicious. And a bit of blue cheese and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar elevates the green bean casserole from cream of something to fresh amazing.
Recipes are developed to appeal to the average palate but if you want to take your dishes from average to extraordinary, it really only takes a few changes to make your guests take pause as they eat.
Pumpkin bread calls for cinnamon, but what about adding other spices from pumpkin pie spice? Instead of vegetable oil sub out vanilla olive oil…or orange olive oil. Add a handful of chopped candied ginger or chocolate chips. It doesn’t change the basic recipe at all. Vanilla salt replaces ordinary salt. This makes pretty amazing pumpkin bread.
Combine sesame oil with orange oil to dress salad. Use smoked salt on mashed potatoes. Add a little New Mexican red chili to sweet potatoes. The sweet marshmallows and the smoky chili is bliss. Cream chives into the butter. Or cinnamon. Have fun! Cooking is an exploration of the human palate, a sensual dance of sweet, sour, spice, umami, and savory, far from average. And eating with loved ones is food for the soul.
Here’s to family, friends, gratitude, and dreams come true. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!