Herbs and Spices Encyclopedia

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Herbs and Spices Encyclopedia

Post  justmecookin on Thu Oct 02, 2008 3:29 pm

Allspice: Allspice is the dried, unripe berry of Pimenta dioica, an evergreen tree in the myrtle family. After drying, the berries are small, dark brown balls just a little larger than peppercorns.

Geographical Sources: Allspice comes from Jamaica, Mexico, and Honduras.

Traditional Ethnic Uses: Allspice is used in Jamaican jerk seasoning and in Jamaican soups, stews, and curries. It also is used in pickling spice, spiced tea mixes, cakes, cookies, and pies. Food producers use it in ketchup, pickles, and sausages.

Taste and Aroma: Allspice is pungent and fragrant. It is not a blend of "all spices," but its taste and aroma remind many people of a mix of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

History/Region of Origin: Christopher Columbus discovered Allspice in the Caribbean. Although he was seeking pepper, he had never actually seen real pepper and he thought Allspice was it. He brought it back to Spain, where it got the name "pimienta," which is Spanish for pepper.

Its Anglicized name, pimento, is occasionally used in the spice trade today. Before World War II, Allspice was more widely used than it is nowadays. During the war, many trees producing Allspice were cut, and production never fully recovered. Folklore suggests that Allspice provides relief for digestive problems.

A Few Ideas to Get You Started: The warm sweet flavor of Allspice lends itself to a wide variety of foods. Allspice is commonly used in both savory and sweet foods. Try mixing 1/4 teaspoon ground Allspice with 2 pounds of ground beef to give a unique flavor to meatloaf or hamburgers. Or, add 1 teaspoon of ground Allspice to angel food or white cake mix for a sensational spicy flavor.

Aromatic whole Allspice is a great addition to potpourri. Add a few Whole Allspice to your pepper grinder, along with a mixture of black, white, and green peppercorns for a unique seasoning blend. For an intriguing spiciness, add whole, cracked berries to marinades for chicken and pork, simmering beef stew, pot roasts, or hearty bean soups.

Enhance simple desserts such as applesauce, fruit compotes, and oatmeal cookies with the warm, sweet flavor of Ground Allspice. Add a pinch of Ground Allspice to barbecue and tomato sauces as well as cooked winter squash and carrots. Allspice may be substituted for cloves. To grind Allspice at home, do not use a grinder with plastic parts, because the oil in the spice can cloud plastic.

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Herbs and Spices Encyclopedia Anise Seed

Post  justmecookin on Thu Oct 02, 2008 3:33 pm

Anise Seed: Is a graybrown oval seed from Pimpinella anisum, a plant in the parsley family. It is related to caraway, dill, cumin, and fennel.

Geographical Sources: Spain and Mexico.

Traditional Ethnic Uses: Europeans use Anise in cakes, cookies, and sweet breads. In the Middle East and India, it is used in soups and stews. Its licoricelike flavor is popular in candies and Anise oil is used in liqueurs.

Taste and Aroma: Anise Seeds smell and taste like licorice.

History/Region of Origin: Anise is native to the Middle East and has been used as a medicine and as a flavor for medicine since prehistoric times. Ancient Romans hung Anise plants near their pillows to prevent bad dreams. They also used Anise to aid digestion and ward off epileptic attacks. Colonists in the New World used it as a medicinal crop too.

A Few Ideas toGet You Started: Give fish and shellfish a wonderful Mediterranean flavor by adding Anise Seed to seafood stews. Make a quick sauce for grilled fish by combining melted butter, toasted Anise Seed, lemon juice, and minced green onion.

To add special flavor and texture to baked goods, brush rolls or sugar cookies with beaten egg white and sprinkle with Anise Seed before baking. Anise Seeds naturally have short, hairlike "webs." Most of the webs are removed in processing, but since they carry flavor it is not necessary for all webbing to be eliminated.


Last edited by justmecookin on Thu Oct 02, 2008 5:01 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Herbs and Spices Encyclopedia Arrowroot

Post  justmecookin on Thu Oct 02, 2008 3:39 pm

Arrowroot: Is a white powder extracted from the root of a West Indian plant, Marantha arundinacea. It looks and feels like cornstarch.

Geographical Sources: Arrowroot is grown in Brazil and Thailand

Traditional Ethnic Uses: Arrowroot is used as a thickening agent for sauces, fruit pie fillings and glazes, and puddings.

Taste and Aroma: Arrowroot has no flavor.

History/Region of Origin: Arrowroot is indigenous to the West Indies, where native people, the Arawaks, used the powder. The Arawaks used the substance to draw out toxins from people wounded by poison arrows. Its name is thought to be derived from that practice.

A Few Ideas to Get You Started: Arrowroot mixtures thicken at a lower temperature than mixtures made with flour or cornstarch. Mix Arrowroot with cool liquids before adding hot liquids, then cook until mixture thickens. Remove immediately to prevent mixture from thinning.

Two teaspoons of Arrowroot can be substituted for 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. One teaspoon of Arrowroot can be substituted for 1 tablespoon of flour. Arrowroot makes clear, shimmering fruit gels and prevents ice crystals from forming in homemade ice cream.


Last edited by justmecookin on Thu Oct 02, 2008 5:02 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Herbs and Spices Encyclopedia Basil, Sweet

Post  justmecookin on Thu Oct 02, 2008 3:45 pm

Basil, Sweet: Is a bright green, leafy plant, Ocimum basilicum, which is in the mint family.

Geographical Sources: Basil is grown primarily in the United States, France, and the Mediterranean region.

Traditional Ethnic Uses: Basil is widely used in Italian cuisine and is often paired with tomatoes. It is also used in Thai cooking. The herb complements meat, vegetables, cheese, and egg dishes.

Taste and Aroma: Basil has a sweet, herbal bouquet.

History/Region of Origin: Basil originated in India and Persia, and was both prized and despised by ancient peoples. Though its name means, "be fragrant," Greeks hated it. However, the Romans loved it and made it a symbol of love and fertility and settlers in early America prized it. Today, Hindus plant it in their homes to bring happiness to the family.

A Few Ideas to Get You Started: Basil tastes great in tomato and pasta dishes but it is also gives a sweetscented, minty aroma when crumbled over baked chicken, lamb, or fish. It blends well with garlic, thyme, and oregano. Crush dried leaves with your hand or in a mortar and pestle to release the herb's flavor. Start with 1/2 teaspoon for 4 servings; add more to taste.


Last edited by justmecookin on Thu Oct 02, 2008 5:02 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Herbs and Spices Encyclopedia Bay Leaves

Post  justmecookin on Thu Oct 02, 2008 3:52 pm

Bay Leaves: Comes from the sweet bay or laurel tree, known botanically as Laurus nobilis. The elliptical leaves of both trees are green, glossy, and grow up to 3 inches long.

Geographical Sources: Bay Leaves are grown in the Mediterranean region.

Traditional Ethnic Uses: Bay Leaves, a staple in American kitchens, are used in soups, stews, meat and vegetable dishes. The leaves also flavor classic French dishes such as bouillabaise and bouillon.

Taste and Aroma: Bay Leaves are pungent and have a sharp, bitter taste.

History/Region of Origin: Ancient Greeks and Romans crowned victors with wreaths of laurel. The term "baccalaureate," means laurel berry, and refers to the ancient practice of honoring scholars and poets with garlands from the bay laurel tree. Romans felt the leaves protected them against thunder and the plague. Later, Italians and the English thought Bay Leaves brought good luck and warded off evil.

A Few Ideas to Get You Started: The Bay Leaf is useful in hearty, homestyle cooking. When you are making bean, split pea and vegetable soups, meat stews, spaghetti sauce, and chili, a Bay leaf can be added for a more pungent flavor.

Alternate whole Bay Leaves with meat, seafood, or vegetables on skewers before cooking. Be sure to remove Bay Leaves before eating a dish that has finished cooking. The whole leaves are used to impart flavor only and are bitter and hard to chew.


Last edited by justmecookin on Thu Oct 02, 2008 5:02 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Herbs and Spices Encyclopedia Caraway Seed

Post  justmecookin on Thu Oct 02, 2008 3:56 pm

Caraway Seed: Is actually the fruit of a biennial herb in the parsley family, known as Carum carvi. The seed is about 1/5inch long and tapered at the ends. The hard seed shells have five pale ridges.

Geographical Sources: Holland is the world's largest Caraway producer. It is also grown in Germany, Russia, Morocco, parts of Scandanavia, Canada, and the United States.

Traditional Ethnic Uses: Caraway Seed is a common flavoring for many kinds of rye bread. It is also used to flavor sauerkraut, sausage, cheese, cabbage, and soups.

Taste and Aroma: Caraway Seed has a pungent aroma and a distinctly sweet but tangy flavor.

History/Region of Origin: Caraway is native to Asia as well as northern and central Europe. First used in antiquity, Caraway has been cultivated in Europe since the Middle Ages. Evidence of Caraway's use in medieval times comes from seeds found in debris in lakes in Switzerland. Caraway is thought to be the spice used longer than any other in Europe. Writings from the 17th century indicate that Caraway Seed was used in breads, fruits, and cakes, and considered a digestive aid.

A Few Ideas to Get You Started: For enhanced flavor, lightly toast Caraway Seed before use in cheese dishes or potato salad. Caraway Seed is great for use in sauerkraut, soups, and stews; add Caraway in the last 15 minutes of cooking for best flavor. Sprinkle Caraway Seed lightly over spice cakes before baking. Mix 1/4 cup melted butter with 1 to 2 teaspoons Caraway Seed; spread on French bread or pour over green beans.


Last edited by justmecookin on Thu Oct 02, 2008 5:03 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Herbs and Spices Encyclopedia Cardamom

Post  justmecookin on Thu Oct 02, 2008 3:59 pm

Cardamom: Is the ground seed of a tropical fruit in the ginger family known as Elettaria cardamomum. The seeds are found in ovalshaped fruit pods that are between 1/4 and 1inch long.

Geographical Sources: Cardamom comes from India, Guatemala, and Ceylon.

Traditional Ethnic Uses: In India Cardamom is traditionally used in curry blends, and in Scandinavian countries it is commonly added to breads; however, most of the world's Cardamom crop is used in Arabic countries as a flavoring for coffee.

Taste and Aroma: Cardamom has an intense, pungent, sweet flavor.

History/Region of Origin: As early as the 4th century BC Cardamom was used in India as a medicinal herb. Greeks and Romans imported it as a digestive aid. In Sweden it has become a more popular spice than cinnamon.

A Few Ideas to Get You Started: A small amount of Cardamom will add a tempting flavor to coffee cake, Danish pastry, specialty breads, and apple pie. Try Cardamom the Arabic way and add a little to your ground coffee before brewing, then sweeten and top with cream.


Last edited by justmecookin on Thu Oct 02, 2008 5:03 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Herbs and Spices Encyclopedia Cayenne Pepper

Post  justmecookin on Thu Oct 02, 2008 4:30 pm

Cayenne Pepper: Iis made from the dried pods of pungent chili peppers. This fiery spice adds flair to dishes from Asia, the Americas, and the Middle East.

Geographical Sources: Cayenne Pepper comes from Central and South America and the West Indies.

Traditional Ethnic Uses: Cayenne Pepper is traditionaly used in Mexican and Italian cooking.

Taste and Aroma: Cayenne Pepper has little aroma, but it is extremely hot to taste.

History/Region of Origin: Cayenne Peppers were grown for thousands of years in the West Indies and Central and South America. Spanish explorers looking for black pepper misnamed them as pepper, and introduced them to the rest of the world. One of Columbus? passengers, de Cuneo, wrote how the Native Americans ate pepperlike fruit ?like we eat apples.?

A Few Ideas to Get You Started: Try adding Cayenne Pepper to salsa, avocado dip, taco, and enchilada sauces for extra zesty flavor. You can heat up a barbecue sauce or meat marinade with a shake of Cayenne Pepper. Spice up your tartar sauce or vegetable dips and dressings with a pinch of Cayenne Pepper. You can make SouthoftheBorder omelets with tomatoes, onions, peppers, and a pinch of Cayenne Pepper added to the eggs.


Last edited by justmecookin on Thu Oct 02, 2008 5:04 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Herbs and Spices Encyclopedia Celery Seed

Post  justmecookin on Thu Oct 02, 2008 4:36 pm

Celery Seed: Is the dried fruit of Apium graviolens, a biennial in the parsley family. This is the same genus and species used for growing table celery, although there are particular varieties that are used for the vegetable. The seeds are very small (about 1/16th of an inch), ovoid and light brown.

Geographical Sources: Celery Seed is grown in France and India.

Traditional Ethnic Uses: Celery or as the ancients called it "smallage" has been used as a medicine since the time of the Greeks. In the Middle Ages, it was discovered that cultivation produced a much superior plant. At that time people began to use it more widely as a vegetable. It was not until the 19th century that the seeds were used in recipes, appearing first in pickling recipes.

Taste and Aroma: Celery Seed tastes similar to table celery, with its warm, slightly bitter, aromatic flavor.

History/Region of Origin: Celery Seed and table celery are grown from a domesticated variety of a wild plant known as "smallage." Smallage was grown by Greeks and Romans for medicinal qualities. It was associated with funerals and bad luck.

A Few Ideas to Get You Started: Celery Seed is useful for adding a celery flavor to foods when the "crunch" of celery is not desired. Stir some into clam, potato, or other creamy soups. Add a pinch to blue cheese dressings and spoon the dressing over ripe tomatoes.


Last edited by justmecookin on Thu Oct 02, 2008 5:04 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Herbs and Spices Encyclopedia Chervil

Post  justmecookin on Thu Oct 02, 2008 4:47 pm

Chervil: Is a lightgreen, lacey, fernlike leaf of Annthriscus cerefolium, a lowgrowing member of the parsley family.

Geographical Sources: Chervil is grown in California and New Mexico.

Traditional Ethnic Uses: Chervil is one of the classic components of the popular French herb blend, fines herbes.

Taste and Aroma: The leaves of this aromatic and sweet herb bear a slight resemblance to parsley; however, the flavor is more distinctive with a trace of anise.

History/Region of Origin: Chervil is native to southern Russia. Pliney, in the first century, used Chervil as a seasoning. The Romans took it to France where it has been important for centuries. Only recently has it been cutivated and used in the United States.

A Few Ideas to Get You Started: Chervil brings out the flavor of other herbs. Stir it into scrambled eggs or cheese and ham omelets. Cervil is useful for adding color and flavor to creamy dressings for pasta and potato salads. Add it to buttersauced mushrooms and serve over grilled steak or chicken breasts. Crush Chervil in your hand or with a mortar and pestle before use.


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Herbs and Spices Encyclopedia Chives

Post  justmecookin on Thu Oct 02, 2008 4:56 pm

Chives: Are the bright green, long, hollow, thin leaves of Allium schoenoprasum, an onionlike member of the lily family.

Geographical Sources: California

Traditional Ethnic Uses: Chives are one of the herbs used in fines herbes, a traditional French herb blend. They also are great as a garnish.

Taste and Aroma: Chives have a mild, onionlike flavor, with a hint of garlic.

History/Region of Origin: Chives grow wild in both the Old and the New World. They have probably been used since ancient times, but they have only been cultivated since the Middle Ages.

A Few Ideas to Get You Started: Chives make an attractive garnish for many savory foods. With a delicate onion flavor, Chives won't overpower the flavor of fish. Add Chives at the last moment to hot foods, since heat lessens their flavor.

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Herbs and Spices Encyclopedia Cilantro

Post  justmecookin on Thu Oct 02, 2008 5:11 pm

Cilantro: Is the leaf of the young coriander plant, Coriandrum sativum, an herb in the parsley family, similar to anise.

Geographical Sources: Cilantro is grown in California.

Traditional Ethnic Uses: Cilantro is traditionally used in Middle Eastern, Mexican, and Asian cooking.

Taste and Aroma: Cilantro's taste is a fragrant mix of parsley and citrus.

History/Region of Origin: Coriander is probably one of the first herbs to be used by mankind, perhaps going back as far back as 5000 BC. It is mentioned in early Sanskrit writings dating from about 1500 BC. The Romans spread it throughout Europe, and it was one of the first spices to arrive in America.

A Few Ideas to Get You Started: Before it is used, Cilantro should be crushed, either by hand or with a mortar and pestle. Cilantro is a perfect addition to Mexican dishes; add Cilantro to salsas and bean dips. Mix crushed Cilantro into sour cream and use it as a topping for chili, tacos, or enchiladas. Sprinkle Cilantro over stirfried vegetables for color and Asian flavor. Add Cilantro to sesameginger dressing when making Chinese chicken salad.

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Herbs and Spices Encyclopedia Cinnamon

Post  justmecookin on Thu Oct 02, 2008 5:31 pm

Cinnamon: Is the dried bark of various laurel trees in the cinnamomun family. One of the more common trees from which Cinnamon is derived is the cassia. Ground cinnamon is perhaps the most common baking spice. Cinnamon sticks are made from long pieces of bark that are rolled, pressed, and dried.

Geographical Sources: True Cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka. The Cinnamon used in North America is from the cassia tree which is grown in Vietnam, China, Indonesia, and Central America.

Traditional Ethnic Uses: Possibly most the common baking spice, Cinnamon is used in cakes, cookies, and desserts throughout the world. Cinnamon is also used in savory chicken and lamb dishes from the Middle East. In American cooking, Cinnamon is often paired with apples and used in other fruit and cereal dishes. Stick Cinnamon is used in pickling and for flavoring hot beverages.

Taste and Aroma: Cinnamon has a sweet, woody fragrance in both ground and stick forms.

History/Region of Origin: Cinnamon has been popular since ancient times. Egyptians imported it from China in 2000 BC. Romans believed Cinnamon was sacred, and Nero burned a year's supply of the spice at the funeral for his wife. Finding Cinnamon was a primary motive of world exploration in the 15th and 16th centuries.

A Few Ideas to Get You Started: For a fragrant pilaf, cook rice in Cinnamon flavored broth and stir in chopped dried fruit and toasted nuts. The sweetspicy flavor of Cinnamon enhances the taste of vegetables and fruits. Cinnamon is a perfect partner for chocolate; use it in any chocolate dessert or drink. It is used to mellow the tartness of apple pie. Ground Cinnamon should not be added to boiling liquids; the liquid may become stringy and the Cinnamon will lose flavor.

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Herbs and Spices Encyclopedia Cloves

Post  justmecookin on Thu Oct 02, 2008 5:35 pm

Cloves: Are the rich, brown, dried, unopened flower buds of Syzygium aromaticum, an evergreen tree in the myrtle family. The name comes from the French "clou" meaning nail.

Geographical Sources: Cloves come from Madagascar, Brazil, Panang, and Ceylon.

Traditional Ethnic Uses: Cloves are used in spice cookies and cakes. Much of the world crop is used in Indonesia for Clove cigarettes, called "kreteks".

Taste and Aroma: Cloves are strong, pungent, and sweet.

History/Region of Origin: Cloves are native to the Molucca Islands, now a part of Indonesia. Cloves have been used for thousands of years. One of the earliest references to them says that the Chinese, in order to approach the emperor, had to have a few Cloves in their mouths to sweeten the breath. Cloves were once very costly and played an important part in world history. Wars were fought in Europe and with native islanders to secure rights to the profitable Clove business. Natives in the Molucca Islands planted a Clove tree for each child born. They believed that the fate of the tree was linked to the fate of that child. In 1816, the Dutch set a fire to destroy Clove trees and raise prices. The natives revolted in a bloody battle which changed the climate and politics of the area forever.

A Few Ideas to Get You Started: Ground Cloves add spicy depth to gingerbread, cookies, applesauce, muffins, cakes, and other sweets. It's a secret ingredient in barbecue and cocktail sauces. Blend Ground Cloves with maple syrup and drizzle over cooked sweet potatos and winter squash. Add a few Whole Cloves to bean and split pea soups (remove before serving). Eugenol (clove oil) will collect and cake in the container when Cloves are stored in a warm place. If you choose to grind your own Cloves, do not use a grinder that has plastic parts. Clove oil can cloud some plastics.

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Herbs and Spices Encyclopedia Coriander

Post  justmecookin on Fri Oct 03, 2008 5:59 pm

Coriander: Is the seed of Coriandrum sativum, a plant in the parsley family. The seed is globular and almost round, brown to yellow red, and 1/5 inch in diameter with alternating straight and wavy ridges.

Geographical Sources: Coriander comes from Morocco and Romania.

Traditional Ethnic Uses: Coriander is used in Indian curries, gin, American cigarettes, and sausages.

Taste and Aroma: Coriander has a mild, distinctive taste similar to a blend of lemon and sage.

History/Region of Origin: Coriander is probably one of the first spices used by mankind, having been known as early as 5000 BC. Sanskrit writings dating from about 1500 BC also spoke of it. In the Old Testament "manna" is described as "white like Coriander Seed." (Exodus 16:31) The Romans spread it throughout Europe and it was one of the first spices to arrive in America.

A Few Ideas to Get You Started: Coriander is not interchangable with cilantro, although they are from the same plant. Ground Coriander seed is traditional in desserts and sweet pastries as well as in curries, meat, and seafood dishes with South American, Indian, Mediterranean, and African origins. Add it to stews and marinades for a Mediterranean flavor.

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Herbs and Spices Encyclopedia Cream of Tartar

Post  justmecookin on Fri Oct 03, 2008 6:34 pm

Cream of Tartar: Is a natural, pure ingredient left behind after grape juice has fermented to wine.

Geographical Sources: Cream of Tartar is obtained from wine producing regions.

Traditional Ethnic Uses: Cream of Tartar is used to stabilize egg white foams. It is also a major ingredient in baking powder.

Taste and Aroma: Cream of Tartar has no aroma and has an acidic flavor.

History/Region of Origin: Cream of Tartar has been known since ancient times.

A Few Ideas to Get You Started: For craft dough, mix together 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, and 2 tablespoons Cream of Tartar in a pan. Stir in 2 cups water, 1 tablespoon oil, and a few drops of food coloring. Cook and stir over medium heat until it forms a ball. Cool and store in a plastic bag until ready to use. Use 1/8 teaspoon per egg white to make souffles, meringues, angel food, chiffon cakes,

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Herbs and Spices Encyclopedia Cumin

Post  justmecookin on Fri Oct 03, 2008 6:38 pm

Cumin: Cumin (pronounced "comein") is the pale green seed of Cuminum cyminum, a small herb in the parsley family. The seed is uniformly eliptical and deeply furrowed.

Geographical Sources: Iran and India

Traditional Ethnic Uses: Cumin is frequently used in Mexican dishes such as chili con carne and hot tamales.

Taste and Aroma: Cumin has a distinctive, slightly bitter yet warm flavor.

History/Region of Origin: An ancient spice, Cumin is native to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and Egypt. Currently it is grown in many places, as it is rather easy to grow and adapts well to many climates. Cumin is one of the ancient spices, a favorite of the Romans and it is mentioned in the Old Testament. During medieval times, it was favored in Europe and Britain, but it seems to have gradually lost favor in those places. The increasing popularity of Mexican influenced foods is boosting the sale of Cumin.

A Few Ideas to Get You Started: For a change of pace, try ground Cumin added to tangy lime or lemon based marinades for chicken, turkey, lamb, and pork. Or, add Cumin to chili, spicy meat stews, barbecue marinades, and sauces. Stir toasted Cumin into corn muffin batter to create an easy southoftheborder accent. Heat Cumin and garlic in olive oil and drizzle over cooked vegetables or potatoes. Ground Cumin is stronger than whole seeds. The Cumin flavor is accentuated by toasting.

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Herbs and Spices Encyclopedia Curry Powder

Post  justmecookin on Fri Oct 03, 2008 6:48 pm

Curry Powder: Is a blend of many spices and is used widely in savory dishes throughout India and Southeast Asia.

A Few Ideas to Get You Started: For a quick dip to complement fruit and vegetable sticks, blend sour cream or yogurt with Curry Powder, marmalade, and thyme. Try adding Curry Powder to deviled eggs and egg salads. You can easily make an East Indian marinade for chicken or lamb with Curry Powder, yogurt, lime or lemon juice, and garlic.

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Herbs and Spices Encyclopedia Dill Seed and Weed

Post  justmecookin on Fri Oct 03, 2008 6:54 pm

Dill Seed and Weed: Is a tall, feathery annual, Anethum graveolens, in the parsley family. Both Dill Seed and Weed (dried leaves) come from the same plant.

Geographical Sources: United States and India

Traditional Ethnic Uses: Dill Seed and Weed are widely used in pickling as well as in German, Russian, and Scandinavian dishes.

Taste and Aroma: The Dill Seed flavor is clean, pungent, and reminiscent of caraway. Dill Weed has a similar but mellower and fresher flavor.

History/Region of Origin: Dill is indigenous to the Mediterranean area and southern Russia. It has been used since ancient times. Babylonian and Syrian herbalists used it, and Romans thought it was an effective stimulant for gladiators. Although native to the Mediterranean region, it became a staple in northern Europe where it is still popular. In fact, the name is derived from the old Norse word "dilla" meaning "to lull" because it was used to lull babies to sleep, and as an antidote to witchcraft and sorcery. Dill Weed is currently gaining popularity in North America.

A Few Ideas to Get You Started: Dill Seed and Dill Weed are not good substitutions for each other. The seed has a camphorous, slightly bitter flavor, and the weed has a delicate flavor. Dill Seed is good sprinkled over casseroles before baking and used in salad dressings. Dill Weed, with its delicate flavor, enhances fish, shellfish, vegatables, and dips.

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Herbs and Spices Encyclopedia

Post  justmecookin on Fri Oct 03, 2008 6:57 pm

Fennel Seed: Is the oval, green or yellowishbrown dried fruit of Foeniculum vulgare, a member of the parsley family.

Geographical Sources: India and Egypt

Traditional Ethnic Uses: Fennel goes well with fish and is used in Italian sausages and some curry powder mixes.

Taste and Aroma: Fennel has an aniselike flavor but is more aromatic, sweeter and less pungent.

History/Region of Origin: Fennel is native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean area. The name comes from the Greek word for "marathon" because the famous battle at Marathon (490 BC) against the Persians was fought on a field of Fennel. Pliny said that snakes casting off their skins ate Fennel to restore their eyesight.

A Few Ideas to Get You Started: Toasting Fennel Seeds accentuates their flavor. Fennel Seed added to meatballs or meat loaf gives an authentic Italian flavor. Saute Fennel Seed with sliced peppers, onion, and sausage for a quick pasta sauce.

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Herbs and Spices Encyclopedia Garlic

Post  justmecookin on Fri Oct 03, 2008 7:00 pm

Garlic: Is the dried root of Allium sativum, a member of the lily family. Garlic grows in a bulb that consists of a number of cloves. Each clove is protected by a layer of skin, but all are held together in one larger unit by additional layers of skin.

Geographical Sources: California

Traditional Ethnic Uses: Garlic is used in cuisines throughout the world. It is indispensible in Chinese, Italian, and Mexican foods.

Taste and Aroma: Garlic has a distinctive odor and flavor.

History/Region of Origin: Garlic is native to central Asia, but its use spread across the world more than 5000 years ago, before recorded history. It was worshipped by the Egyptians and fed to workers building the Gread Pyramid at Giza, about 2600 BC. Greek athletes ate it to build their strength. Garlic came to the Western Hemisphere with some of the first European explorers, and its use spread rapidly. In the United States it was first cultivated in New Orleans by French settlers. Missionaries brought it to California, where it is grown today.

A Few Ideas to Get You Started: Use Minced Garlic or Garlic Chips in pasta sauces, stews, and soups. Mix with oil and vinegar and Italian spices to make salad dressing. Garlic Powder can be used in marinades, or mixed with herbs and rubbed into poultry, pork, or beef before cooking.

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Herbs and Spices Encyclopedia Ginger

Post  justmecookin on Fri Oct 03, 2008 7:05 pm

Ginger: Is a flavoring from a tuberous root of Zingiber officinale, a plantin the Ginger family. The root is often dried and ground or "crystallized" with sugar.

Geographical Sources: India and Jamaica

Traditional Ethnic Uses: Ginger is used in gingerbread, ginger ale, gingersnaps, and Asian dishes.

Taste and Aroma: Ginger has a slightly biting and hot note. Its aroma is rich, sweet, warm, and woody.

History/Region of Origin: No one is sure how old Ginger is, or where it came from, since it has never been found growing wild. It was first cultivated by the Chinese and Indians. It was one of the important spices that led to the opening of the spice trade routes. The name Ginger comes from the Sanskrit word "sinabera" meaning "shaped like a horn" because of its resemblance to an antler. In the 19th century it was popular to keep a shaker of Ginger on the counter in English pubs so the patrons could shake some into their drinks. This practice was the origin of ginger ale.

A Few Ideas to Get You Started: Since ginger is a fibrous root, at times fibers may get into the manufactured product. Crystallized Ginger can replace fresh Ginger. Wash off the sugar first if desired when preparing a savory dish.

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Herbs and Spices Encyclopedia Horseradish

Post  justmecookin on Fri Oct 03, 2008 7:08 pm

Horseradish: Is a hot, pungent condiment made from a plant in the mustard family. The powdered form of Horseradish is made by grinding the root and drying in a gentle heat. Horseradish vinegar is the root combined with shallots, onions, garlic, and red pepper in vinegar.

Geographical Sources: Oregon

Traditional Ethnic Uses: Its most common use is as a condiment for roast beef, fish, and oysters.

Taste and Aroma: Hot and pungent

History/Region of Origin: The earliest account of Horseradish comes from 13th century western Europe, where Germans and Danes used it as a condiment, stimulant, and digestive medicine. It was introduced in England in the 16th century, where it is still used to treat hoarseness and coughs. It was brought to the United States in the 19th century, and now grows wild along the East Coast.

A Few Ideas to Get You Started: Mix Spice Islands Horseradish into whipped cream or sour cream for a classic roast beef topping. Add Horseradish to dressings, mayonnaise, and other condiments for zippier salads, sandwiches, and dips. Blend Horseradish into tomatobased cocktail sauce for a seafood or barbecue sauce for grilled meats.

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Herbs and Spices Encyclopedia Juniper Berries

Post  justmecookin on Fri Oct 03, 2008 7:11 pm

Juniper Berries: Come from the juniper shrub, an evergreen in the genus juniperus, which grows in the Northern Hemisphere.

Geographical Sources: Europe and North America

Traditional Ethnic Uses: Juniper Berries are used in Northern Europe and the United States in marinades, roast pork, and sauerkraut. They enhance meat, stuffings, sausages, stews, and soups.

Taste and Aroma: Juniper Berries have a bittersweet aroma.

History/Region of Origin: Juniper Berries grow wild throughout the Northern Hemisphere and are used widely in Scandinavian and French kitchens.

A Few Ideas to Get You Started: Crush Juniper Berries before using. Use them in marinades for game, beef, or pork.


Last edited by justmecookin on Fri Oct 03, 2008 7:15 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Herbs and Spices Encyclopedia Mace

Post  justmecookin on Fri Oct 03, 2008 7:14 pm

Mace: The nutmeg tree, Myristica fragrans, is special in that it produces two seperate spices, nutmeg and Mace. Mace is the ground outer covering (aril) of the nutmeg seed. A piece of unground Mace is called a blade.

Geographical Sources: Indonesia, Grenada

Traditional Ethnic Uses: Mace is most popular in European foods where it is used in both savory and sweet dishes. It is the dominant flavor in doughnuts.

Taste and Aroma: Mace has a flavor and aroma similar to nutmeg, with slightly more pungency.

History/Region of Origin: Mace is indigenous to the Molucca Islands. There are both male and female trees and they are planted in a ratio of about 1 male tree for every 10 female trees. The Portuguese controlled the Mace trade until they were driven out by the Dutch in 1602. At one point the price of Mace was so high and nutmeg so low that one Dutch official, unaware that Mace and nutmeg came from the same tree, ordered growers to burn nutmeg trees and grow more Mace.

A Few Ideas to Get You Started: One teaspoon ground Mace can be substituted for 1 tablespoon Mace blades. Mace lends a warm, fragrant, oldworld spiciness to many baked goods and sweets. You can also use it in an array of savory favorites, such as pates, creamed spinach, and mashed potatoes. It enlivens vegetables or macaroni and cheese. Try 1/8 teaspoon for 4 servings. Sprinkle on fruits, whipped cream, or anything chocolate. Mace can also be substituted for nutmeg.

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