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Nature's Wonders... Herbs and Spices
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by: Celebrity Recipes

The magic of herb and spices in their ability to make flavor intense and be able to identify these flavors with certain places. It is this association of our taste with memories that make these cooking ingredients worth their weight in gold.

Herb and spices are considered essential components in cooking, be it in household or in sophisticated hotels around the world. They are highly prized by the culinary world for their flavorful and aromatic qualities. Since there are so many kinds of herb and spices we would like to acquaint you with the uses of some of them and what food are best made with them.

  • To get the best out of cardamom, powder plump seed as they will lose much of their delightful aroma if left standing or powdered for future use. Using cardamom with cinnamon and cloves is popular. Cardamom is also delicious with coffee, barbecue, basting sauces and pickles.

  • There are two kinds of cinnamon in the market, cinnamomum zeylannicum and cinnamomum cassia. The first is from the bark of a tree that grows in Surinam's Malabar Coast. It is usually rolled in a quill or stick or in powdered form. The stick is often used in hot chocolate, wine, fruit compotes and pickles. It is also used on toast, dusting of cookies or in desserts and baked products. Meats and seafoods benefit from its flavor too.

  • Cloves are so full of oil you can squeeze it out with your finger. Taken from a clove tree, caryophyuus aromaticus, cloves are powdered or the oil is added in light foods. The best type of cloves comes from Madagascar and Zanzibar. Very popular with curries, chutneys, marmalades, stewed fruits, pickles, onions and meats like ham.

  • Fresh or green ginger should be kept dry lest it sprouts and be useless for flavoring. Mostly used thinly sliced to extract the flavor; well known as the great fishy flavor remover. It is delicious as a dessert component, with bananas, squash, tomatoes, onions and sweet potatoes. It is also excellent for baking.

  • This is harvested from the papapver phoeas, the best comes from Holland and has a slate blue color. The seed is used roasted or steamed or crushed before cooking. This will release its full flavor. It is good with baked pastries and noodles.

  • It is best replacements for saffron, which is so expensive. Made from an Indian rhizome, its golden color and taste is deemed perfect for pickles and curries. It is also sought after as food coloring.

  • The Royal herb as the French call it, basil is so versatile it goes well with tomatoes, fish and egg recipes as well as savory food. It is the main ingredients in pesto and perfect with pasta.

  • DILL
  • This slightly bitter plant is used in sour cream, fish, beans, cucumber and cabbage dishes and potato salad as well. Try it with butter and add to vinegar for extra zest.

  • Called the fine herb, the leaves are used in green salad, omelets, chicken and veal. It's impossible not to use it for bernaise or vinaigrette sauce. Sprigs of chervil is often used with stock and stews.

  • Be cautious when using bay leaves. They are very strong but are perfect for stocks, sauces, marinades as they impart a heady fragrance. In cooking vegetables and meat improve much with it and it is never forgotten in bouquet garni.

  • MINT
  • Mint is favored in fruit cups, coleslaw, lamb dishes, and veal recipes. In desserts, chocolate, jellies, and juleps are made famous because of mint. Grown in any type of soil, it is hardly enough that it will grow in any climate except extreme cold. A perennial, it should be confined or it will overgrow its neighbors. Keep them well pruned so you have nice tops for garnishing.

  • The most expensive of all herbs, saffron is taken from the stigmas of golden orange autumn crocus and used for color and flavor in cakes, breads, dressing and risotto. A small amount is enough for most recipes.

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September 23, 2017

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