Let us create a 3D eBook for you!
Let us create a 3d Digital eBook for you! DigyCat.com

Herbs and Spices - the Essence of Flavor


In any number of cookbooks and recipes you will find advice on which herbs go with what. I'm not going to take that route.

While there certainly are marriages that are tried and tested, such as tomatoes and basil or lamb and rosemary, the reality is that the use of herbs is every bit as much a matter of personal taste as any other aspect of cooking.

Consequently, what I want you to do is to sample as many herbs as you can and try to marry up the flavors with the foods you are familiar with. That's not as difficult as it sounds. Just close your eyes and think about it.

You will find, after a while, that you will instinctively know which flavoring to use, when to use it and how much of it you need.

Do this with both fresh and dried herbs. Crush a little between finger and thumb and smell it. This is much more important than your sense of taste.

Something magical will happen. You will come to realize that fresh herbs are not better than dried ones, they simply impart a different flavor. There are two major exceptions to this.

One is mint, which has a strange musty flavor when dried, and the other is chives, which are so delicate that the flavor rarely survives cooking. Using dried chives is therefore pretty pointless.

One other point to watch out for is that some dried herbs can remained inedible even after thorough cooking. Rosemary is a very good example of this and needs to be filtered out of any liquids in which it has been used as a flavoring.

In any case, fresh or dried, it is better to chop up herbs such as this before using them.

Using herbs in cooking

Many herbs, such as basil and coriander (sometimes called Chinese parsley and cilantro in the USA) are terrific simply torn up in salads. Note that I said torn up and not cut; only cut herbs if you intend to cook them.

It's important to recognize that some herbs lose flavor with extended cooking, even in their dried state. Fortunately it's fairly easy to spot which those are.

Tough leaved herbs such as bay can be safely added at the start of cooking time and will maintain their flavor. In fact, they may need to be in the food for as long as possible in order for their flavor to fully develop.

Herbs with light and delicate leaves, however, will lose their flavor very quickly once in contact with heat. To use basil in a soup, for example, you needed to add it, not to the hot liquid as you might expect, but rather to the warm plate you intend to serve the soup in. Then pour the soup on top of it.

Alternatively, simply sprinkle it on top of the soup and leave it there. It will make an attractive decoration and impart a wonderful aroma as you take the soup to the table.

What's that? You want to use a tureen and server the soup at the table? No problem. Sprinkle the herb in its raw state on top of the soup anyway. The effect, when you remove the lid, will be the same. Just stir it in as you serve.

The spices of life

Most people, including most professional chefs, use spices that have already been prepared.

That is to say they have been ground up, ready to use. The main exception to this is probably black pepper, which you should always grind yourself. Not difficult. You can buy a pepper grinder just about anywhere and the peppercorns are available in any supermarket.

Of course you can, if you wish, go to the trouble of buying a pestle and mortar, tracking down the raw spices and then grind them yourself.

If you do this, you will be richly rewarded with deep and penetrating flavors. You may also find that you get tired of doing it very quickly. However I would highly recommend it for a special occasion, or a wet weekend in Bargo.

Generally speaking, though, the shop bought variety are fine, providing you don't keep them hanging around in a cupboard for too long. They will lose their flavor.

As with herbs, it's very important that you learn the taste and smell of each individual spice and, uniquely, its pungency. This last item is one that is frequently overlooked, even by experienced cooks.

Just about everybody is aware that chili needs to be used carefully for obvious reasons. But for some reason they do not pay the same attention to turmeric - which is quite delicate - and, say, star anise which can strangle an incautious palate at a hundred paces.

Both give themselves away, however, if you simply take the lid off the jar and sniff them.

Mixing spice

Generally speaking, it is a rare thing to add more than a couple of spices to the same dish. The obvious exceptions to this are Asian and Indian dishes, where the carefully blended mix of flavors will be both traditional and subtle.

You have a choice with these. You either follow a recipe, or you use one of the many excellent pre-prepared pastes that are now available. I tend towards the latter choice, although I do still mix my own spices from time to time.

You should do the same. It's fun and you learn a great deal about which spices mix well and which are best kept as an individual flavoring.

However you choose to cook with spice, treat it with respect and always add it a little at a time, tasting as you go.

Remember also, that the flavor will change with the length of cooking time. It may deepen, or it may lessen in its effect. Only experience will teach you what each individual spice does and how quickly it does it.

One excellent way to test the effect of adding spice, is to cook your rice with something like cardamom seeds. These come in little pods that needed to be cracked open and the seeds extracted.

Do this by placing them on a stable surface, place the flat of a cleaver blade over them and apply a bit of pressure. They will open easily. Use about two pods for one dish of rice.

You could also add some turmeric to the same rice dish. This will turn it yellow and also add a subtle flavor which complements the pungency of the cardamom. Call it saffron rice if you like, very few people will be able to tell the difference.

Rice is a good way to test any number of flavorings. Personally I find it a bit boring on its own, and I frequently add something to it to jazz it up a little. Experiment. You will be pleasantly surprised at what a difference a new flavor can make.

You will also be pleasantly surprised at your growing reputation.

Michael Sheridan was formerly head chef of the Pierre Victoire restaurant in London's West End, specializing in French cuisine. An Australian, he is a published author on cooking matters. The article shown here is one of a series available completely free from The Cool Cook's Recipe Club at http://thecoolcook.com


MORE RESOURCES:

Cooking Tips - Google News

Home Plates: Spiced peaches for Thanksgiving - The Mercury News


The Mercury News

Home Plates: Spiced peaches for Thanksgiving
The Mercury News
And Dhanashri P. from San Jose likes to bake, but can't find a vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe that passes muster. “My family is vegetarian, and we don't use eggs in cooking,” Dhanashri says. The recipes Dhanashri has tried produce cookies that are ...

PARENTING: Food prep tips for parents on the go - Sarasota Herald-Tribune


PARENTING: Food prep tips for parents on the go
Sarasota Herald-Tribune
For busy parents, serving healthy, home- cooked meals can seem unrealistic but, with some planning and a few time-saving strategies, it is not impossible. It starts with a plan. Set aside time each week to plan meals, make a shopping list, prepare for a ...

Schoenbrunn trade fair re-enactors share love of history and living in 18th-century style - New Philadelphia Times Reporter


New Philadelphia Times Reporter

Schoenbrunn trade fair re-enactors share love of history and living in 18th-century style
New Philadelphia Times Reporter
Laura Supinger came to Schoenbrunn from Covington, Ohio, with her parents, Chris and Kris Supinger, to demonstrate 18th-century cooking. She offered some cooking tips from that era. “Patience. You must have patience,” she said. “Cooking over a fire is ...

Epicurious, Alexa Team Up to Bring Voice-Activated Cooking Tips to the Kitchen - Folio Magazine


Epicurious, Alexa Team Up to Bring Voice-Activated Cooking Tips to the Kitchen
Folio Magazine
Beginning today, with a simple download on the Alexa smartphone companion app, users of Amazon's personal assistant can access cooking and preparation tips curated by the teams at Condé Nast's Food Innovation Group and its Co/Lab digital ...

Why you're probably cooking rice the wrong way - The Guardian


The Guardian

Why you're probably cooking rice the wrong way
The Guardian
Plain white rice is the beating heart of most Asian cuisines – the cooking of which involves nothing more than water – whereas in Latin American countries, as Maricel Presilla points out in Gran Cocina Latina, plain rice will invariably involve both ...

How to Apply Alton Brown's Famous Food Hacks in Plant-Based ... - One Green Planet


One Green Planet

How to Apply Alton Brown's Famous Food Hacks in Plant-Based ...
One Green Planet
The show that taught the world how to have fun in the kitchen with handy hacks is making its way back onto our T.V. screens. Alton Brown's Good Eats is set to ...

and more »

Potluck: Food blogger offers cast-iron cooking tips, recipes ... - Times Record


Times Record

Potluck: Food blogger offers cast-iron cooking tips, recipes ...
Times Record
Years ago, when I was a young mom, I tried cooking cornbread in a cast-iron skillet. Maybe I didn't follow the recipe directions properly or failed to season the ...

and more »

17 Clever Cooking Tips I Learned While Working In Restaurants - BuzzFeed News


17 Clever Cooking Tips I Learned While Working In Restaurants
BuzzFeed News
Sure, instant-read thermometers are great for making sure your steak is cooked, but so is a simple cake tester (like this one for $4.33 on Amazon). They're great for checking the doneness of veggies, seafood, and (most commonly) scallops. Place your ...

Avoid These 7 Common Mistakes While Cooking Cannabis Edibles - Leafly


Leafly

Avoid These 7 Common Mistakes While Cooking Cannabis Edibles
Leafly
A few months back, I attended the Puff, Pass & Bake class led by Chef Torrin Panico, who led us through the process of cooking cannabis oil properly while addressing some common missteps along the way. As soon as I understood the basic science of ...

Europeans Secrets to Using Olive Oil: Cooking, Health Tips | Brit + Co - Brit + Co


Brit + Co

Europeans Secrets to Using Olive Oil: Cooking, Health Tips | Brit + Co
Brit + Co
Whether you used it for dipping bread or cook with it on the reg, you're likely familiar with olive oil. But for most Americans, it's not a staple in our diets, and we've ...

and more »

LargeFriends.com - the best dating site for plus-sized singles!
SuccessfulMatchCentral.com - the best dating site for plus-sized singles!

PreLaunchX

DietRight.biz Domain Is For Sale - $8,500 For Enquiries eMail Us

© www.DietRight.biz 2012

home | site map | links