Because Alex Mackay believes taste is everything when it comes to cooking, he goes into great detail on how to season your food in his book Everybody Everyday. These are just a few of the many hints on seasoning you will find in the early chapters, because, as he says, pepper is not the only spice that will add taste to your cooking. His aim is to encourage us to use our imagination when it comes to seasoning.

ALEX SAYS: Although pepper goes with most things, so do curry powder, fresh ginger, paprika, or chilli.

The idea is to stop automatically reaching for your pepper grinder and ask yourself where you would like your spices to take you.

To balance salt, sweet, acid and spice to a dish, you need to add a little seasoning at a time and keep tasting. You can always add more, even at the table if you want to.

If a dish or dressing is too sweet, add a touch of lemon or vinegar.

If it is too acidic, add sugar.

If it is too rich or cloying, add a touch of lemon juice, vinegar or spice.

If it is too salty, the only rescue is to add more liquid.

Dried lemon zest is an incredible seasoning as it enlivens stews and tomato-based sauces. This can be prepared in a batch, from zest removed from lemons, taking care not to include the white pith. Cut the zest into long strips and place on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper in a single layer, then dry out in an oven at 110C or the lowest gas mark for two to three hours until brittle. Leave to cool. Stored in a sealed jar in a cool dark place, it will keep for months and can be used when needed to heighten the flavour of a tomato-based dish.

Liquid seasonings include vinegar which can be used raw or reduced over a high heat for a deeper taste. Balsamic syrup, soy sauce, brown sauce and Worcester sauce tend to add a lot of their own flavour, but sometimes this is exactly what a meal and your mood needs.