Combine the liquid, whether it's milk, cream, sugar syrup, or even soup
stock, with the flavoring ingredient over moderate heat. When the liquid
is just shy of a boil, remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let the
mixture steep until the liquid is richly flavored, usually 30 minutes to
an hour. Strain out the flavorings and press on them in the strainer to
extract all the liquid. Then use the flavored liquid as directed in your
Press on the seasonings in the strainer to get every last bit of flavor. The strained, infused liquid is now ready to be used in your recipe.
Experiment with Flavors
Beyond what the cookbooks call for, you can personalize your recipes by making infusions with a wide range of ingredients.
Try some of these:
Steep fresh lavender, rosemary, or sprigs of thyme in sugar syrup to make a palate-cleansing sorbet.
Flavor milk with tarragon and roasted garlic to make a savory flan.
Use star anise, lemongrass, and dried chiles to lend an Asian accent to soup stock.
Make crème anglaise from milk infused with fresh mint and orange zest to serve with chocolate desserts.
Infuse cream with freshly grated ginger, crushed coffee beans, or toasted pistachios to make an intensely flavored base for ice cream.
Add lemon zest and fennel seeds to sugar syrup to make a refreshing poaching liquid for fresh fruit.