How To... Add Some "Bam!" To Your Cooking
Emeril Lagasse didn't make his name by approaching cooking quietly. Use these tips to add spice to your dishes and a little "Bam!" to your kitchen. You'll be kicking it up a notch and cooking like Emeril in no time.
Step 1: Focus on one style of cuisine
Emeril made his name in the business by focusing on Cajun/Creole cuisine. It's not that he didn't have the knowledge or skill to tackle multiple types of food, but he understood that the best way to gain a foothold is to carve out a niche. Choose one style of food to concentrate on, whether it's Italian, Mexican, Indian or Spanish, and focus on perfecting just one or two dishes in your specialty. This will benefit you three ways:
Step 2: Learn about spices
Emeril is well known for his near-addiction to spices. And it makes sense: You can't cook Creole without spice. To really add some kick to your recipes, learn which spices are used the most within the area of cooking you've chosen. Then, play with whole spices, ground spices, herbs and spice variations (such as lemon-infused salt) to enhance your food's flavor. The more you understand about enhancing your food with spices, the more like Emeril you'll be.
Step 3: Mix things up a little
You can't cook like Emeril if you don't like to experiment in the kitchen. Emeril isn't known just for Creole cooking; he's known for "New New Orleans" cooking. So, rather than a basic jumbalaya, he mixes up a version with Asian, Portugese or Southwestern seasonings. After you've become familiar with the spices in your prefered cooking area, branch out. Add a little Mexican flair to your Italian meal, or jazz up an American hamburger with Indian seasonings. You'll probably come up with some atrocious pairings, but you might discover a few true winners, too.
Step 4: Branch out
After making his name in New Orleans cooking, Emeril branched out and pursued all types of cooking. Don't get stuck in a rut; after you master the Mexican meal, try Chinese or Japanese cooking. This ever-changing focus will help keep you interested and engaged in your hobby.
Step 5: Have fun
Emeril clearly enjoys what he does, and he makes cooking fun for those who watch his shows. So, don't be afraid to mess up, and don't think of cooking as a chore. Get in the kitchen, turn on some music, and allow your senses to engage as you whip up a feast. As you add spice to your dishes, don't be afraid to use an Emeril-ism or to coin your own catchphrase; yelling "'Bam!" or "Kick it up a notch!" every time you throw salt in the pot is sure to bring a smile to your face.
Step 6: Get help
If you still feel overwhelmed, pick up one of Emeril's cookbooks or watch one of his cable TV shows. Lots of resources are available to teach you how to whip up some of Emeril's favorite recipes exactly the way he does.
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Photo credit: Chris Connor / WENN