Use more miso paste
This umami rich paste is so incredibly versatile and our guess is that it’s going to be the buzz ingredient for 2021. Miso adds salt to dishes but also a depth that you don’t get from a simple sprinkle of the good stuff. Whether you’re stirring it through softened butter to serve with grilled fish, or swirling it through chocolate ganache for a showstopping dessert, miso is the ingredient we’re going to be reaching for all year.

Use your mortar and pestle
(and if you don’t yet have one, buy one)

A mortar and pestle is one of the tools I simply couldn’t live without. It’s much better for making condiments like pesto as it bruises the ingredients, rather than slicing them like a food processor. I have multiple, including a small (and very inexpensive) one that sits next to the stove. Each day a small amount of black peppercorns are quickly pounded and then this cracked pepper is used throughout the day. The mortar and pestle results in a chunky and irregular mix of black pepper, which gives a more interesting flavour than the uniformed powder you get from a peppermill.

Experiment with vermouth
Vermouth is a fortified wine and works really well in recipes when wine has been asked for. It has similar qualities to the flavours of wine, but with an aromatic addition. Another advantage is that if you don’t generally drink wine, you often end up splashing some in the pan and the rest is discarded. Vermouth however will stay in a useable condition once opened for a lot longer than a standard bottle of wine. Just ensure you get a bottle of dry vermouth, not sweet.

Buy yourself a jar of tasting spoons
A few years ago I purchased a large bunch of spoons for a few dollars from an op-shop and put them in an old jam jar near my stove. Now when I am cooking I can use them to taste (many times) as I go without worrying about running out of spoons. Plus my nicer set of cutlery, which doesn’t go in the dishwasher, can then be kept for setting the table.

Sauté your onions slower
If a recipe begins by cooking chopped onion and they sizzle and brown within a minute or so of hitting the frypan, chances are the heat was too high and you have cooked them too quickly. Using a combination of lower heat, oil and a bit of salt to cook the onions will create a sweeter, more interesting flavour. It takes a little more time but the results are worth it.