Sep 1, 2010

Spices

by Kiku Reidhead


Fall recipes utilize lots of spices - packing dishes full of flavor, but making it difficult for the beginner chef. We know that cooking doesn't have to be difficult and want to teach you some tricks about fall spices. Once you know what flavors certain spices add or enhance in a dish, you can tweak a favorite recipe to make it your own or even create your own recipe from scratch.

Here is a guide we put together to help you learn more about what you are working with. Use these hints to help you be a true master in the kitchen.

Allspice: The name originates from its smell resembling a combination of spices, namely cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. Because of its similarity to these common spices, it can be used as a substitute for them in most recipes.
Used in breads, cakes, cookies and fruit sauce recipes.

Anise: Before it is powdered, it looks like a star. Anise is actually what gives black licorice its flavor. It is used for soups, sauces and cookies.

Cinnamon: In both stick and powdered form. It gives a warm, sweet flavor. Used to flavor baked goods and drinks like apple cider.

Cloves: Whole cloves are used in seasoning holiday meats like Christmas Ham. Its powdered form is used in baking, desserts, soups, stews, meats and can be blended with other spices. Cloves are potent so a little goes a long way.

Ginger: This spice is actually commonly found in both fresh and dry forms. You can find the fresh root in the produce section of your grocery store. This can then be grated or sliced and added to meat dishes for lots of extra flavor. Or, you can buy it in the dry, powdered form in your spice isle. This is added to baking dishes like ginger cookies, pumpkin pie and many other holiday dishes.

Mint:  Can lighten and freshen any dish including fruit salads. Used best in its fresh leaf form; chop and add to salads, vegetable dishes or use as a garnish.

Nutmeg: Just like cloves, a little of this spice can go a long way. It is used in baking, and gives a warm, nutty flavor. Can also be added to white sauces and potatoes.

Sage: Sage is actually part of the mint family. It is used most commonly in its ground form and in small portions due to its strong flavor. It is a great spice for flavoring meats. During the holidays try it in your turkey recipe.

Thyme: Used in both its ground and whole forms. A Mediterranean spice that releases flavor gradually while it cooks. This means, if you want to taste the thyme, add it early in the cooking process. Ground thyme is good for soups, stews or gravies. Whole thyme is commonly used in roast turkey or chicken recipes.

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