Thursday, July 24, 2008

Upgrade Everyday Meals with Herbs and Spices

Bring international cuisine to your kitchen.

No, it isn’t hard to be an international chef — even if you rarely travel beyond your local grocery store. By simply adding a few herbs and spices to your kitchen collection, you can prepare dishes from all over the world.

Nutmeg is a main ingredient in Caribbean cooking, as well as, allspice and ginger.

French cooking uses virtually no spices but plenty of herbs, because the herbs grow in many French backyards. That means rosemary, thyme, tarragon, and marjoram, to name a few — all of which can show up in the classic blend herbes de Provence, which you can make by combining an assortment of those herbs (fresh or dried) in your kitchen. Just chop up the components and mix them to taste, or order at my online Watkins store for one of the many recipes for this blend, which sometimes includes basil, savory, cracked fennel, or lavender.
Try this on beef, roast lamb, chicken, pork, zucchini, or tomatoes.

Nutmeg and mace (another part of the nutmeg plant) are at the top of the list in German cooking. Mace and nutmeg are not indigenous to Germany, but they go in a lot of sausages.
Try this in streusel.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no one spice called curry. Curry powder is actually a mix of any number of pungent spices, and the recipe for that blend can vary from cook to cook. Cumin and turmeric are staples. Other possibilities include —but aren’t limited to — coriander, ginger, black pepper, red pepper, cloves, white pepper, nutmeg, fennel, cinnamon, saffron, and mace.

Ireland isn’t exactly known for its spices but use this mix on potatoes. The mix includes red bell peppers, onion, cayenne, toasted onion, Romano cheese, thyme, rosemary, and basil.

Many of Italian cuisine’s characteristic flavors don’t come from spices, but from garlic and onion. Many Italian recipes call for Italian parsley, basil, and oregano.

Cumin is used in pretty much all Hispanic cooking, as well as, onions, garlic, and Mexican oregano. Mexican oregano tends to be more bitter and earthy than the oregano you use for Italian cooking. It holds its own better among the other strong spices because it’s not as delicate and sweet.

1 comment :

Kim said...

If anyone would like to learn more about herbs in French cooking, they might find my link interesting.

What an appealing website you have. Bit dangerous though - makes me want to start buying