04 Prep & Cooking II

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What you’ll learn

This week we’ll learn how to build flavor in a dish by combining herbs and spices so you can create delicious dishes every time.

The objectives for this module:

  • Master the herbs and spices that you’ll use for everyday cooking
  • Learn how to combine and substitute herbs and spices
  • Understand the five main tastes that go into well-balanced flavor
  • Learn how to use the five tastes to enhance and support each other
  • Learn about essential ingredients and flavor combinations for a variety of international cuisines


Required: watch and complete the recap for each lesson

1: All About Herbs

Let’s dive into how to herbs in your good food cooking to brighten and enhance flavors.


01:55 Basil

03:10 Chives

04:11 Cilantro

05:09 Dill

06:09 Marjoram

07:09 Mint

08:29 Oregano

09:14 Parsley

10:57 Rosemary

12:06 Sage

13:05 Savory

14:25 Tarragon

15:35 Thyme

16:45 Lesson Action

2: Spices I

Let’s go over some common spices and learn about how you can use them, and combine them, to build amazing flavor in your good food cooking.


02:39 Allspice

03:56 Anise Seeds

04:55 Bay Leaf

06:23 Caraway Seeds

07:27 Cardamom

09:12 Cayenne Pepper

10:36 Chipotle Powder

12:08 Cinnamon

13:38 Cloves

14:28 Coriander

15:26 Cumin

3: Spices II

Let’s continue learning about a few more staple spices.


00:55 Fennel Seed

01:50 Garlic Powder

03:27 Ginger

04:48 Juniper Berries

06:18 Mustard Seed

07:56 Nutmeg

08:59 Onion Powder

10:17 Paprika

11:47 Peppercorns

13:05 Red Pepper Flakes

14:21 Turmeric

15:35 Vanilla

16:53 Lesson Action

4: Spice Blends

Now that you’re familiar with the basics of the spices you’ll be using every day, let’s learn how to use them with confidence, beyond a single recipe.


01:42 Chili Powder

02:21 Curry Blend

03:56 Garam Masala

05:13 Herbes de Provence

06:19 Jerk Seasoning

07:31 Montreal Steak Seasoning

08:27 Poultry Blend

10:23 Za’atar

11:13 Using Spice Blends

15:29 Lesson Action

5: Flavor Combining 101

Whether you realize it or not, eating involves all your senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. Learn how to use salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami tastes to create well-rounded dishes.


01:33 Taste, Aroma, Flavor, and Texture

03:20 Salty, Sweet, Sour, Bitter, Umami

03:25 Salty

03:33 Sweet

03:43 Sour

03:50 Bitter

03:59 Umami

04:36 Pungent

04:49 Astringent

11:39 Lesson Action

6: Aromatics: A Flavor Foundation

Let’s look at how to balance flavor in a dish using aromatics.


00:42 Using Aromatics

05:16 Aromatic combos from around the world

06:56 Lesson Action

Practice Recipes

Recommended: prepare a minimum of 1 recipe

If you haven’t already, it’s time to start putting a little bit of “you” into your recipe creations. Practice building flavor with simple aromatics and spices that you choose. Acquaint yourself with the most-important practice of tasting as you go, and see how powerful a little bit of this, or a little bit of that can transform menu rotation staples like tomato-based sauces and granola. Grab your cooking journal and write it all down.

Once you prepare them, think outside of the box when it comes to how you use these recipes. Sure, granola is a lovely breakfast and tomato sauce is a perfect friend to pasta. But enjoy granola as a snack, layer it in a parfait, add some to ice cream, or remix it and cook some down with milk and chopped fruit over low heat for a warm cereal. Scatter it on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover it with melted dark chocolate (and a pinch of salt on top), once cool, chop it up for a rustic granola bark treat!

Try the tomato sauce as a dip (maybe add some cream), use it as a base for a stew or curry (just add a packet of a nice spice blend and maybe coconut milk), and of course, use it as a pizza sauce! Its hint of sweetness is a perfect stage for salty, sour, bitter, and umami toppings.

Easy Tomato Sauce

You’re going to make one batch of sauce and create three variations of that sauce with this recipe template. Practice flavor combining and become acquainted with the power of a tiny pinch of spice like clove or nutmeg or fennel seeds.


The Granola Template

This is a simple granola base that you can change up many ways with our combination suggestions. Make a batch of granola with whatever you have on hand for years to come.



Helpful and inspiring books, articles, recipes, shopping links, and more for good food cooking.

“Pantry to Plate” Challenge

  • Accepted file types: jpg, gif, png, pdf, jpeg, Max. file size: 50 MB.

Take the Pantry to Plate Challenge, upload your experience, and earn credits to use towards future courses and goodies from Good Food Cooking School.

Knowing how to open your pantry or fridge and make what you have into something special is a must-have skill these days. We’re showing you how it’s done with this course and if you want more practice, more tools, and more reward for your efforts, grab a copy of the book that inspired Good Food Cooking School: Pantry to Plate.



The Goal: You’ll be so acquainted with herbs, spices, and seasoning blends by the end of this module that you could recite them in your sleep. This is good. That means using them will eventually become second nature with a little practice. We have plenty for you already, but if you want it all, here’s an extra Challenge using the Dips & Spreads Template from Pantry to Plate. Try out all the herb and spice combos you’re dreaming of.

Grab your cooking journal and document what you try and why. And remember, always taste as you cook. Can you incorporate some tricks like Blooming your Spices or trying a specific aromatic combination you’ve learned about for extra flavor in a dip or spread?

Dips & Spreads are a great way to use the spices, packets of spice blends, jars of condiments, cans of beans, and aromatics you have in the fridge or pantry. Think outside of the box and have some fun.



The Challenge: Turn to page 138 in your copy of Pantry to Plate and use the Dips & Spreads Recipe Template to practice using herbs, spices, and seasoning blends solo or in combination. Think about the 5 Tastes as you choose your ingredients, and as you prepare your creation.

Could you add a touch of sweetness with a drizzle of honey? Would bitter herbs balance flavor and add color? How about brightening and balancing with lemon juice or zest?

Also think about texture—pair your creamy Dips & Spreads with crunchy crackers and crisp, raw vegetables. Add crunch with toasted nuts or seeds to top your creation.

Required to complete The Challenge: Share one photo and your experience with the Challenge in the fields above. 

Optional, but encouraged: Share in the private classmates group and show us your creations on Instagram (tag @YumUniverse and #pantrytoplate).

Earn 3 Credits = $3
Complete the Challenge and once approved by our team, you’ll earn 3 credits (= $3) to use towards a future course enrollment or product offered by GFCS. The more Challenges you complete the more credits you earn.

Extra Learning & Cheat Sheets

Some of these links take you directly to affiliate partner sites. You’re welcome to skip these links to research and buy products wherever, or however you like. 


Quick Guide to Herbs

If you’re someone who likes a cheat sheet handy in the kitchen, or someone who keeps a recipe binder, print out this guide and use it to create a variety of dishes with herbs. You can always reference the Ingredient Index, too.

Quick Guide to the Five Main Tastes

If you’re someone who likes a cheat sheet handy in the kitchen, or someone who keeps a recipe binder, print out this guide and use it to develop and balance the five tastes in a variety of dishes.

Extra Recipes

If you like, get acquainted with herbs and make this staple pesto. Use it in wraps, as a dip, as a salad dressing, topping for rice and grain bowls, or toss with roasted veggies and/or noodles. Use our variation suggestions to remix it hundreds of ways. It’s a batch cooking staple that you can freeze for future meals, too.


Shopping: Appliances & Tools

Extra Books & Courses

Some of these links take you directly to affiliate partner sites. You’re welcome to skip these links to research and buy products wherever, or however you like. 


YumUniverse Pantry to Plate

100 recipes + 30 recipe templates to help you create incredible meals from what you have on hand—as seen in O Magazine and on Oprah.com. Written by your Good Food Cooking Basics Instructor and author Heather Crosby. (plant-based, gluten-free) 

The YumUniverse Cookbook

150 veg-powered, gluten-free recipes for all eaters—written by your Good Food Cooking Basics Instructor and author Heather Crosby. (plant-based, gluten-free)

Gluten-Free Baking Academy

Learn to make gluten-free baked goods like sourdough, quick breads, flatbreads, sandwich loaves, and cookies with wholesome, minimally processed ingredients.