Guide to Spices &Herbs in the Kitchen - New England Today

Guide to Spices &Herbs in the Kitchen - New England Today

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The Old Farmer’s Almanac A n O l d F a r m e r ’ s A l m a n a c R e s o u r c e A l m a n a c . c o m

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Spices& Herbs in the Kitchen Bring on the flavor!

34 easy recipes teach how and why to use 25 common spices & herbs in delicious family dishes. The Old Farmer’s Almanac

America’s oldest continuously published periodical Published annually since 1792

• •

Almanac.com

The Old Farmer’s Almanac 1121 Main Street P.O. Box 520 Dublin, New Hampshire 03444 603-563-8111 Copyright © 2009 by Yankee Publishing Inc.

With lore and more, make cooking fun!

Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian, wine and tarragon make it French . . . [and] garlic makes it good. –Alice May Brock, American author (b. 1941)

Copyright © 2009 by Yankee Publishing Inc.

A

ny cook will tell you that the secret to great food is great flavor, which usually results from using spices and herbs in correct portions and combinations. For some cooks, getting the flavor right can be a challenge: How much spice is enough? How will these herbs taste together? Which is best—fresh or dried? You’ll find the answers to these and other such questions right here. This fun, informative guide, created by the editors of The Old Farmer’s Almanac, will greatly increase your culinary confidence about spices and herbs. You’ll prepare tastier dishes and make more appetizing meals by using these reliable recipes and quick-reference charts—as well as have lots to talk about at mealtime after you surprise your family and friends with lore about each herb. If you wish, print these pages and keep them in your favorite cookbook. We hope that you find this guide helpful; please let us know at Almanac.com/CookingQuestions. And think of this as just the beginning: For additional recipes, gardening information for growing your own, and a whole lot more, visit Almanac.com.

Guide to Spices & Herbs in the Kitchen

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Allspice

Basil, Sweet

Flavor Allspice tastes like a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

Flavor

Lore Christopher Columbus and his crew found allspice in the West Indies in 1493. His ship’s physician noted that the tree had the “finest smell of cloves” ever encountered. In the Caribbean, allspice is known as Jamaica pepper; in Poland, it’s called kubaba.

Basil is considered sacred in India and precious to lovers in Italy. It was once customary for Italian men to wear a sprig of basil as a sign of their marital intentions. Romans believed that cursing while sowing basil would ensure a good crop.

In the Kitchen Use allspice in pot roasts, stuffings, cakes, biscuits, pies, and relishes.

Sweet basil has a mild mint-licorice flavor.

Where salt is good, so is basil. –Italian saying

Lore

In the Kitchen Use basil in tomato dishes, pesto and other sauces, and salad dressings.

Basil Carbonara 10 slices bacon

Caramel-Apple Tart 11 ⁄ 2 cups cake flour 1

⁄ 2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

⁄ 4 cup fresh basil leaves

5 cloves garlic 2 eggs, beaten 1

⁄ 2 cup half-and-half

5 tablespoons sugar

1 cup fresh grated Parmesan

1 egg

1 pound pasta

1 teaspoon cinnamon 1

⁄ 4 teaspoon allspice

1 cup brown sugar 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour 4 cups peeled and sliced apples

Mix the first four ingredients together. Add a little water, Copyright © 2009 by Yankee Publishing Inc.

1

if necessary, to form a dough. Chill for 2 hours before use. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Roll out the dough to 1⁄16 inch and press into a well-greased 10-inch tart pan. Set aside any extra pastry for later use. Mix the remaining dry ingredients well. Add the apples, mix well, and spoon into a pastry-lined tart pan. With any remaining pastry, cut out shapes and layer over the tart. Sprinkle with a little more cinnamon and brown sugar, if desired. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until light brown.

Boil some water for cooking the pasta. Fry the bacon, drain, and chop it into 1⁄4-inch pieces. Process or chop the basil and garlic until finely minced. In a bowl, mix the eggs and halfand-half, then add the bacon, basil mixture, and grated cheese. Cook the pasta as directed, and drain. Immediately add the sauce to the hot pasta. Stir lightly to mix. Cover and let sit for 2 to 3 minutes (to ensure that the egg mixture “cooks”). Toss and serve at once with extra Parmesan. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Makes 12 servings.

Guide to Spices & Herbs in the Kitchen

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Almanac.com

Bay Leaves

Cardamom

Flavor

Flavor

Bay leaves have a woodsy, pleasantly bitter taste.

Cardamom has a mild ginger flavor.

Lore Thought to deter lightning, witches, and the devil, bay leaves were also used in Ancient Greece and Rome for laurel crowns to mark wisdom and victory. When placed under your pillow, bay leaves bring pleasant dreams. In the Kitchen Use bay leaves with meat, fish, and poultry dishes, and in sauces.

Cranberry Relish 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 1 small onion, chopped 2

⁄3 cup red-wine vinegar

1 cup brown sugar 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1

⁄ 2 teaspoon ground allspice

1

⁄ 2 teaspoon coriander

1

⁄ 2 teaspoon ground cloves

1

⁄ 2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 bay leaf 3 cups cranberries, washed and picked over Copyright © 2009 by Yankee Publishing Inc.

2 pears, peeled, cored, and diced

Heat the oil and sauté the onion, then add the vinegar, brown sugar, spices, and bay leaf. Simmer 20 minutes, or until syrupy. Add the cranberries and pears and simmer for another 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and serve at room temperature. Makes

Lore Cardamom, related to ginger, was used in old recipes for pickled vegetables, fruits, and herring as well as custards, spiced wines, liqueurs, and sauerbraten. It is also believed to freshen breath and aid digestion. In the Kitchen Use cardamom in cakes and pastries (and instead of nutmeg in pumpkin pie), curries, and jellies, and with sweet potatoes.

Sour Cream Waffles 5 eggs 1

⁄ 2 cup sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted 1 teaspoon ground cardamom 1 cup sour cream 1

⁄ 4 cup (1 ⁄ 2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Beat the eggs and sugar together for 5 to 10 minutes with an electric mixer. With a rubber spatula, alternately fold in half of the flour, the cardamom, and the sour cream, and then the remaining flour. Lightly stir in the melted butter and set the batter aside for 10 minutes. Heat a waffle iron until a drop of water sputters when dropped onto it. Pour about 3⁄4 cup of the batter in the center of the hot iron. Close the top and cook over direct heat for 5 minutes. Makes about 6 waffles.

3 to 4 cups.

Guide to Spices & Herbs in the Kitchen

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Almanac.com

Celery Seed

for great results

Wrap fresh herbs in damp paper towels. Put them in a cool place where they will keep for a few days. For longer storage, freeze or dry herbs.

Flavor Celery seed tastes like celery.

Lore Celery seed is welcomed wherever a bit of bitterness is desired. Seventeenth-century Italians developed the parent plant, celery, from a wild, bitter, salt-marsh plant called smallage. In the Kitchen Use celery seed with vegetables, eggs, meat, fish, and poultry.

Horseradish Dressing 2 cloves garlic, crushed 1

⁄ 2 teaspoon celery seed

1 teaspoon prepared hot mustard or ground mustard 4 tablespoons grated horseradish 1

⁄ 2 cup olive oil

4 tablespoons wine vinegar 2

⁄3 cup cottage cheese

salt, to taste

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Thin as desired with a little water; add salt. This makes a hearty dressing over cabbage salad or poured over hot or cold cooked vegetables. Makes about 11 ⁄ 2 cups.

Chervil Flavor Chervil has a mild flavor similar to that of parsley.

Lore Chervil is related to parsley and is native to southern Russia. During the Middle Ages, it was used to treat a variety of disorders. Chervil’s botanical name means “the heart rejoices.” In the Kitchen Use chervil in soups, salads, and sauces, and in egg, fish, veal, lamb, and pork dishes.

Carrots With Grapes 2 pounds carrots 2 teaspoons dried basil 1 clove garlic 1

⁄ 2 cup (1 stick) butter

1 teaspoon dried chervil 1

⁄ 4 teaspoon celery salt

2 cups seedless white grapes, halved Copyright © 2009 by Yankee Publishing Inc.

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Clean the carrots and cut into julienne strips. In a saucepan, combine the carrots, basil, and garlic; add water to cover, and cook for 20 minutes, or until tender. While the carrots are cooking, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the chervil and celery salt. When the carrots are cooked, drain; discard the garlic. Add the carrots, grapes, and lemon juice to the butter, stir to coat, and heat just until the grapes are warm. Serve as a side dish with chicken or turkey. Makes 12 servings.

Guide to Spices & Herbs in the Kitchen

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Almanac.com

Chives Flavor Chives have a delicate onion flavor.

Lore Ancient Chinese herbalists suggested eating chives as an antidote to poison. Clusters of chives were also hung in homes to ward off evil spirits. The German word for chives is Schnittlauch, which means “cuttable leek.” In the Kitchen Use chives to enliven vegetable, rice, egg, and cheese dishes; dressings, sauces and gravies; and dips.

Cilantro Flavor

French-style Potato Salad 2 pounds whole boiled potatoes 1

⁄ 4 cup white-wine vinegar, divided

1

⁄ 2 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard salt and pepper, to taste 1 cup chopped fresh chives 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

Copyright © 2009 by Yankee Publishing Inc.

Slice the cooked potatoes while they are still warm. Sprinkle with half of the vinegar. Mix the rest of the vinegar with the oil, mustard, salt, and pepper and pour it over the potatoes. Toss with the chives and herbs. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Cilantro has a mild flavor similar to that of parsley.

Lore Cilantro is the leaves of the coriander plant and was once considered to prevent baldness. Legend has it that pregnant women have the best luck sowing it. In the Kitchen Use cilantro in soups, salads, and curries, and as a garnish.

Green Tomato Salsa 4 to 5 large green tomatoes 1 red bell pepper, seeded and roasted 2 jalapeños, seeded and roasted (optional) 2 small onions, chopped 3 cloves garlic

for great results

When storing spices, be sure that containers are airtight. Moisture can cause ground spices to lump. Store spices in a cool, dark place. Ground spices will retain their best flavors for about a year. Whole spices may last for three to five years.

Guide to Spices & Herbs in the Kitchen

1 teaspoon sugar 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1

⁄ 2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all of the ingredients (except salt and pepper) in a food processor and chop coarsely. Season to taste with salt and pepper and refrigerate for at least 3 hours to allow the flavors to blend and develop. Remove from the fridge about 20 minutes before serving. Makes about 3 cups. B 6 N

Almanac.com

for great results

If you are a fan of low-sodium cooking, substitute strong, flavorful herbs and spices such as basil, black pepper, cumin, curry, garlic, and oregano.

Cinnamon Flavor Cinnamon has a warm, sweet flavor.

Lore Folklore suggests sniffing cinnamon to cure the common cold. Cinnamon is an appetite stimulant. Cinnamon sticks (the bark of the cinnamon tree) were used by colonial Americans as a digestive aid and to flavor or “mull” cider. This spice has also been used in sacred oils for anointing. In the Kitchen Use ground cinnamon in baked goods, stewed fruits, and vegetable dishes, and in spiced teas and coffees.

C o l d S t r a wb e r r y S o u p 1 quart fresh or frozen strawberries

Flavor Cumin has a salty-sweet flavor similar to that of caraway.

Lore In Europe, during the Middle Ages, cumin was given to lovers to keep them faithful. Italian and German bread bakers traditionally add cumin to the dough to protect the loaves from being stolen by wood spirits. Hens that are fed cumin stay close to home. In the Kitchen Use cumin whole in yogurt dishes, soups, and breads. Use ground cumin in pork, rice, and sausage dishes, and in chilies and curries.

Blender Gazpacho 1 red bell pepper, seeded 1 small cucumber, peeled and seeded 2 cups vegetable juice (such as V-8) 1 cup salsa 1

⁄4 cup chicken broth

1

⁄4 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 cloves garlic, minced 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar

1

⁄3 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

1

⁄4 cup cranberry juice

1

⁄2 cup yogurt (any kind)

hot sauce, to taste

1 Copyright © 2009 by Yankee Publishing Inc.

Cumin

⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

salt and pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons sugar

Chop the vegetables into small pieces. Combine all of the

1 tablespoon cinnamon 1

⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg

whipped cream, as garnish 4 mint leaves, as garnish

Mix all of the ingredients together (except the whipped cream

ingredients in a large bowl, transfer to a blender or food processor, and process in batches, aiming for a coarse purée. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. (This is best if made a day ahead, so that flavors can meld.) Makes 4 servings.

and mint leaves) and purée in a food processor or blender. Chill for several hours to allow flavors to blend. Garnish each serving with a dollop of whipped cream; more cinnamon, if desired; and a mint leaf. Makes 4 servings. Guide to Spices & Herbs in the Kitchen

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Almanac.com

Garlic Flavor Garlic has a pungent, aromatic, mild to biting taste when raw. The flavor mellows when it’s cooked.

Lore Garlic was believed to inspire courage, which is why ancient Romans ate it before battle and Bolivian bullfighters carried it into the ring. Aristotle considered consuming garlic as a guard against hydrophobia, the fear of water. Folklore advises hanging whole bulbs around the neck to cure a cold.

Ginger

In the Kitchen Use garlic in tomato dishes, breads, soups, dips, sauces, and marinades, or with meats, poultry, fish, and vegetables.

Grilled Portobellos

Ginger has a sweet, fiery flavor.

4 portobello mushrooms 4 cloves garlic, minced 1

⁄ 2 teaspoon dried thyme

1

⁄ 2 teaspoon dried, crumbled rosemary

1

⁄4 cup olive oil

1

⁄4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives 2 tablespoons ketchup 1 tablespoon honey 1 tablespoon soy sauce salt and pepper, to taste 2 cups cooked rice

Rinse the mushrooms and

Copyright © 2009 by Yankee Publishing Inc.

Flavor

pat dry, then cut off and chop the stems. Mix the garlic, thyme, rosemary, and olive oil and drizzle the mixture over the caps. Combine the remaining ingredients (except the cooked rice) with the chopped stems in a small saucepan. Simmer for 5 minutes. Baste the caps with the sauce, and grill (or broil) for 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve with rice, with the remaining sauce on the side. Makes 4 servings.

Lore In the 1800s, a tincture of ginger (produced by steeping an ounce of gingerroot over gentle heat in a pint of spirits for a week) was an “expellant to purgative droughts” and a cure for seasickness. In the Kitchen Use ginger in pies, pickles, puddings, cookies, cakes, cheese dishes, salad dressings, and soups.

Maple Syrup Cake 1

⁄ 2 cup (1 stick) butter

1 cup sugar 2 eggs, beaten 1 cup maple syrup 21 ⁄ 2 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 2

⁄3 teaspoon baking soda

1

⁄ 2 teaspoon ground ginger

1

⁄ 2 cup hot water

pecan or walnut halves, as garnish

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an angel food cake pan.

There are five elements: earth, air, fire, water, and garlic. –Louis Diat, French chef (1885–1957)

Guide to Spices & Herbs in the Kitchen

Cream the butter with the sugar. Add the beaten eggs and maple syrup. Sift together the dry ingredients and add, alternating with hot water. Pour into the pan and bake for about 50 minutes. Garnish with pecan halves. Makes 12 servings.

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Almanac.com

for great results

Add herbs and spices to slow-cooking dishes an hour or less before serving. Cooking them for too long may result in an overpowering flavor.

Mace Flavor Mace has a mild nutmeg flavor.

Lore

Lovage Flavor Lovage smells lemony and tastes like celery.

Lore Ancient Greeks and Romans chewed on lovage seeds to aid digestion. Lovage can grow up to 7 feet tall, and its stalks make good drinking straws. In the Kitchen Lovage complements soups and stews, rice and vegetable dishes, and stuffings and salad dressings. Young stalks are sometimes candied. The seeds can be sprinkled on breads and biscuits prior to baking.

Mace is the dried aril (lacelike covering over the shell) of nutmeg; when fresh, it appears as pressed, flat blades. It is most commonly used ground. Old recipes used mace sparingly (often with cherries) because it was quite precious. In the Kitchen Use mace in doughnuts and other baked goods, in sauces, and with chicken, creamed fish and other seafood, and fruits.

Mulligatawny Soup 2 tablespoons butter 1 medium onion, sliced 1 medium carrot, diced 1 celery stalk, diced

Pickled Carrot Sticks

1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced

4 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 4-inch sticks

1 apple, peeled and sliced

6 lovage sprigs 18 peppercorns 1 tablespoon mustard seeds Copyright © 2009 by Yankee Publishing Inc.

5 cloves garlic, thickly sliced 31 ⁄ 2 cups white or cider vinegar 1

⁄ 2 cup sugar

Stand the carrots upright in six sterilized pint-size canning jars. Add a sprig of lovage to each jar. Divide up the peppercorns, mustard seeds, and garlic; sprinkle equal amounts into each jar. Boil together the vinegar, 21⁄2 cups of water, and the sugar until the sugar dissolves. Pour the hot liquid over the carrots, covering them completely and leaving a 1⁄4-inch head space. Seal and refrigerate for at least 1 week before using. Makes 6 pints.

Guide to Spices & Herbs in the Kitchen

1 cup diced cooked chicken 1

⁄3 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon curry powder 1

⁄8 teaspoon ground mace

2 whole cloves 1 sprig fresh parsley 2 cups chicken stock or broth 1 cup chopped cooked or canned tomatoes salt and pepper, to taste

Melt the butter in a large saucepan or stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, green pepper, apple, and chicken and sauté until the onion is tender. Gradually stir in the flour and curry powder. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the cloves. Serve hot. Makes 6 servings. B 9 N

Almanac.com

Marjoram

Mint

Flavor

Flavor

Marjoram has a delicate, flowery taste.

Mint leaves have a fruity, pungent taste.

Lore The Ancient Greeks named mint after a mythical character, Menthe. During the Middle Ages, powdered mint leaves were used to whiten the teeth.

Lore The Old Farmer’s Almanac once suggested marjoram for those “given to overmuch sighing.” Ancient Greeks believed that it could revive the spirits of anyone who inhaled it.

In the Kitchen Mint is common in Middle Eastern dishes. Use it with roast lamb or fish, and in salads, jellies, or teas.

Garden-fresh T a bb o u l e h

In the Kitchen Marjoram complements almost any meat, fish, dairy, or vegetable dish that isn’t sweet. Add it near the end of cooking to capture the most flavor.

Shrimp, Arugula, 1

and

Chicory Salad

⁄4 cup olive oil

1 cup bulgur (cracked wheat) 1 cup chopped fresh parsley 1

⁄ 2 cup chopped scallions

1 clove garlic, minced 1

1 onion, finely chopped ⁄4 cup chopped scallions, including the green part

1

⁄ 2 to 3 ⁄4 pound cooked, shelled, and deveined shrimp

3 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 2 tablespoons rice vinegar 1

⁄ 2 cup arugula leaves

Copyright © 2009 by Yankee Publishing Inc.

1 bunch chicory, washed, stemmed, and dried

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and sauté the garlic, onion, and scallions over medium heat for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the shrimp and sauté for another 2 minutes. Stir in the marjoram and cilantro. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice and vinegar. In a medium bowl, combine the arugula and chicory. Top with the shrimp mixture. Makes 4 servings.

Guide to Spices & Herbs in the Kitchen

–Pliny the Elder, Roman scholar (a.d. 23–79)

⁄4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1 large tomato, chopped 1

⁄ 2 cup garbanzo beans, cooked

1 tablespoon minced garlic 1

As for the garden of mint, the very smell of it alone recovers and refreshes our spirits, as the taste stirs up our appetite for meat.

or canned

Put the bulgur into a bowl and cover it with 11⁄2 cups of boiling water; stir. Cover the bowl with a towel and let it stand for about 1 hour, or until all of the water is absorbed. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to blend the flavors. Serve in pita pockets or with feta cheese. Makes 6 servings.

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Almanac.com

Nutmeg Flavor Nutmeg has a nutty, sweet taste.

Lore Early citizens of Connecticut whittled fake wooden nutmeg seeds and sold them to gullible housewives, earning the state the nickname “The Nutmeg State.” Nutmeg was once considered good for head ailments and eyesight. In the Kitchen Add nutmeg to sweet foods, such as pies, custards, and cakes; applesauce; eggnog; soufflés; and meat and vegetable dishes.

Carrot and

Z u cc h i n i Muffins 2 eggs, beaten 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons plain yogurt 1 cup canola oil

Copyright © 2009 by Yankee Publishing Inc.

1 cup grated carrots

Oregano Flavor Oregano is reminiscent of thyme and zestier than marjoram.

Lore Related to wild marjoram, oregano was used to cure “sour humours” that plagued elderly farmers. The name oregano is from the Greek words oros and ganos, meaning “joy of the mountain.” In the Kitchen Use oregano in any tomato dish, with summer squash or potatoes, in mushroom or bean dishes, or in a marinade for lamb or game.

Italian Sausage Pasta

1 cup grated zucchini

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 pound Italian sausage

1 cup sugar

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 tablespoons baking powder

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup dry white wine or water

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease 18 to 24 muffin cups or line with paper. In a large bowl, mix the eggs, yogurt, and oil; then stir in the carrots and zucchini. Set aside. In another bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and nutmeg. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir until just combined. The batter will be lumpy. Stir in the pecans. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Makes 18 to 24 muffins.

Guide to Spices & Herbs in the Kitchen

⁄ 2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano 1 pound pasta grated Parmesan, as garnish

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet. Remove the sausage from the casings, crumble it into the skillet, and brown. Remove and set aside the sausage, then sauté the onion and garlic. Add the wine, followed by the sun-dried tomatoes. Return the sausage to the skillet and add the oregano. Cook the pasta as directed and drain, then toss with the sauce and garnish with the Parmesan. Makes 6 servings.

B 11 N

Almanac.com

Paprika Flavor Paprika has a tangy-sweet flavor.

Lore Paprika is the national spice of Hungary and is essential to goulash and other meat stews. Hungarian paprika, made from the dried flesh of sweet red peppers, has a bright red color. In the Kitchen Use paprika in stews, salad dressings, and omelets, and with fish.

Poppy Seed

Shrimp Creole 2 tablespoons butter 1 cup chopped onion

Flavor

1 cup chopped green bell pepper

Poppy seeds have a sweet, nutty flavor.

1 clove garlic, minced 2 cups stewed tomatoes 1

⁄8 teaspoon paprika

salt and pepper, to taste 1 pound raw shrimp, shelled and deveined 3 cups cooked white rice

In a large heavy skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, green pepper, and garlic and sauté 5 minutes, or until the pepper is tender. Add the tomatoes and seasonings and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve over white rice. Makes 6 servings.

Lore Poppy flowers are a symbol of sleep. Legend has it that they grow where battles raged and where England’s holy maid Margaret slew the dragon. In the Kitchen Use poppy seeds in breads, cakes, pastries, and salad dressings. Also try them with vegetables and noodles.

S p i n a c h - S t r a wb e r r y S a l a d 1

⁄ 2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons sesame seeds 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Copyright © 2009 by Yankee Publishing Inc.

11 ⁄ 2 teaspoons minced onion 1

⁄4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1

⁄4 teaspoon paprika

1

⁄ 2 cup vegetable oil

1

⁄4 cup cider vinegar

1 bag (10 ounces) fresh spinach, washed 1 pint strawberries, sliced thin

In a blender, combine the sugar, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, onion, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, oil, and vinegar. Blend well. If the dressing seems thick, add a few drops of water. Remove the stems from the spinach and tear the leaves into bite-size pieces. Place in a salad bowl. Arrange the strawberries on top. Drizzle the dressing over the strawberries and serve. Makes 4 to 6 servings. Guide to Spices & Herbs in the Kitchen

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Almanac.com

Rosemary Flavor Rosemary has a fresh, sweet flavor.

Sage

Lore

Flavor

The word rosemary comes from the Latin words ros (dew) and marinus (sea). It is one of the most common plants on the hillsides surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Bathing in rosemary was believed to restore youth and clear the complexion.

Sage has a strong and warm taste reminiscent of turkey stuffings prepared for the holidays.

In the Kitchen Use rosemary in poultry, lamb, and tomato dishes; in soups and stews; and with vegetables. Try it finely chopped in breads and custards.

Rosemary Chicken

Sage was the herb of Zeus, the ruler of Mount Olympus in Greek mythology, and was thought to promote strength and longevity. Legend had it that it quickened the memory and relieved trembling. In the Kitchen Use sage in cheese dishes, stuffings, soups, salads, and pickles, and with beans and peas. Sage is an excellent substitute for salt in low-sodium diets.

R o a s t e d C o r n W i t h H e r b B u tt e r 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

1

1 teaspoon salt 1

⁄ 4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

8 small red potatoes, washed 2 medium fennel bulbs 1 tablespoon olive oil 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped 1

⁄ 2 cup dry white wine

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Arrange the chicken in a large roasting pan and sprinkle with rosemary, salt, and pepper. Cut the potatoes in half and cut the fennel bulbs into wedges that equal the size of the potato pieces. In a mixing bowl, toss the potato and fennel pieces with the olive oil and garlic. Place the vegetables around the chicken and pour the wine over all. Put the pan in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 350°F. Roast for an hour, basting occasionally with juices. Chicken should be golden brown and the vegetables tender.

–10th-century saying

Lore

2 ⁄ 2-pound frying chicken, quartered 1

Copyright © 2009 by Yankee Publishing Inc.

Why should a man die, when he can go to his garden for sage?

⁄ 2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

6 large ears corn, with husks on

Mix all of the herbs into the softened butter, form into a stick or log, and refrigerate until firm. Sprinkle the corn husks with water and preheat the broiler or grill. Roast the corn on a baking sheet under the broiler or on the (covered) grill, turning until all sides are blackened. Keep turning and roasting for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the corn kernels are tender. Peel back the husks and silk and serve with the chilled herb butter. Makes 6 servings.

Makes 4 servings.

Guide to Spices & Herbs in the Kitchen

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Almanac.com

Tarragon Flavor Tarragon has a slightly bitter anise-licorice flavor.

Lore The word “tarragon” originates from the French word estragon, or “little dragon,” because of the serpentine appearance of its roots. It was considered soporific and good for the breath. In the Kitchen Use tarragon with meats, eggs, poultry, seafood, and pasta, and in salad dressings, marinades, and sauces.

Herb-stuffed Pasta 8 ounces jumbo pasta shells 8 ounces cream cheese 4 ounces ricotta cheese 2 eggs, beaten 1 clove garlic, minced 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon salt and pepper, to taste 1

⁄ 2 cup bread crumbs

Copyright © 2009 by Yankee Publishing Inc.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a casserole. Cook the pasta as directed; do not overcook. Drain and set aside. While the pasta is cooking, combine the cheeses, then mix in the eggs and seasonings. Stir the bread crumbs in last. Stuff each pasta shell with a bit of the cheese mixture. Arrange the stuffed shells in the casserole. Cover and bake for 10 minutes, or until the filling is hot. Makes 6 servings.

Guide to Spices & Herbs in the Kitchen

Thyme Flavor Thyme has a pleasant, pungent, clove flavor.

Lore The Old Farmer’s Almanac once published this 15th-century folk remedy for headache: “Heat hillwort [thyme] and sysell [vinegar], and put it in your nostrils that the odor may go to the brain.” In the Kitchen Use thyme in casseroles, soups, stews, and ragouts, and with eggs, potatoes, fish, and green vegetables.

Lentils

and

Lamb

2 pounds boned lamb 2 tablespoons olive oil 11 ⁄ 2 cups dried lentils 1 onion, chopped 4 cloves garlic, minced 1 bay leaf 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme 1

⁄ 2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon salt 1

⁄ 2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

Cut the lamb into cubes and brown it in the oil in a large stewpot. Add 4 cups of water and the lentils (no presoaking required), then add the onion, garlic, and seasonings. Cover and simmer for 2 hours. Add the carrots and cook for another 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Makes 6 servings.

B 14 N

Almanac.com

for great results

Turmeric

If you plan to sauté or roast spices, be careful because they tend to burn quickly. As soon as the aroma is released, remove the spice from the heat. Continue to shake and stir the spice for several minutes.

Flavor Turmeric has a mild earthy flavor.

Lore Hindus consumed turmeric for vigor and used it in wedding rites. For centuries, garments were often colored with the yellow powder. Turmeric is also believed to be mildly antiseptic. In the Kitchen Use turmeric with eggs; in chutneys, relishes, and pickles; and in rice and bean dishes.

Sweet Mustard Pickles

Health Benefits

of

Spices

and

Allspice

Relieves indigestion

Basil

Relieves insomnia

Cardamom

Eases congestion

Cinnamon

Anti-inflammatory

Cumin

Antioxidant

Ginger

Soothes nausea

Mint

Eases muscle tension

Nutmeg

Relieves insomnia

Rosemary

Antioxidant

Sage

Aids digestion

Turmeric

Antioxidant

Herbs

12 small cucumbers, sliced 1 head of cauliflower, washed and separated into florets

Symbolic Meaning

3 pounds small onions, sliced 1

⁄ 2 cup salt

Herb

11 ⁄3 cups all-purpose flour

Herbs

Meaning

6 cups sugar

Basil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Good wishes, love

1 tablespoon turmeric

Chives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Usefulness

4 tablespoons ground mustard

Cumin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Fidelity

2 quarts apple cider vinegar

Marjoram . . . . . . . . . . . . Joy, happiness

Put the vegetables into a bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Let Copyright © 2009 by Yankee Publishing Inc.

of

Mint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Eternal refreshment

stand overnight. In the morning, rinse and drain. Combine the flour, sugar, turmeric, and mustard in a pot. Stir in the vinegar, and cook until thickened, constantly stirring. Pour the vegetables into the mixture, adding more vinegar, if necessary, to cover. Simmer for 30 minutes, then process in sterilized glass jars. Makes 4 to 6 quarts.

Guide to Spices & Herbs in the Kitchen

Oregano . . . . . . . . . . . . . Substance Rosemary . . . . . . . . . . . Remembrance Sage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Wisdom, immortality Tarragon . . . . . . . . . . . . Lasting interest Thyme . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Courage, strength

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for great results

One tablespoon of fresh herbs is equal to one teaspoon of dried herbs.

Curry Powder 4 tablespoons ground coriander 3 tablespoons ground turmeric 2 tablespoons ground cumin 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper 1 tablespoon ground ginger 1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds 1 teaspoon chili powder 1 ⁄ 2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Special Mixes

Combine and store in an airtight container. Add to chicken or egg salad or rice, or use to make meat or vegetable curry.

Spicy Chicken Rub

Fajita Blend

2 teaspoons chili powder 1 teaspoon ground oregano 1 teaspoon cilantro leaves, dried and crumbled 1 ⁄ 2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1 ⁄ 2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 ⁄ 2 teaspoon ground ginger 1 ⁄ 2 teaspoon ground cumin

4 tablespoons chili powder 2 tablespoons ground cumin 2 teaspoons ground oregano 2 teaspoons garlic salt

Combine and store in an airtight container. When ready to use, mix a small amount with water to form a paste. Rub on the poultry and cook. Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend ⁄ 3 cup cinnamon 1 tablespoon ground ginger 1 tablespoon nutmeg or mace 11 ⁄ 2 teaspoons ground cloves 11 ⁄ 2 teaspoons allspice

1

Combine and store in an airtight container. Sprinkle on fajita meat or stir into meatloaf or burgers for a spicy kick. Seafood Spice 2 tablespoons allspice 2 tablespoons celery salt 2 tablespoons ground mustard 1 tablespoon ground ginger 1 tablespoon paprika 3 ⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Combine and store in an airtight container. Add to seafood salads and chowders, or sprinkle on fish fillets.

Combine and store in an airtight container. Add 1 to 11⁄ 2

teaspoons of this mix to pumpkin pie filling.

Copyright © 2009 by Yankee Publishing Inc.

Breakfast Spice Shaker 1 cup sugar 3 tablespoons cinnamon 1 teaspoon nutmeg or mace 1 teaspoon cardamom

Combine and store in an airtight container. Sprinkle on pancakes, toast, or oatmeal.

Guide to Spices & Herbs in the Kitchen

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Herb Bouquets

Herb Substitutions

Herb bouquets, or bouquets garnis (“gar-

When you’re out of . . .

nished bouquets”), are used to flavor soups, stews, and chowders as well as poached chicken and fish. For the recipes below, put the dried herbs and spices into a 4-inch square of cheesecloth and tie securely. Always remove the bouquet before serving.

Use . . .

Allspice

Cinnamon or a dash of nutmeg or mace

Basil

Marjoram, oregano, or thyme

Cardamom

Ginger

Chives

Scallion, onion, or leek

Cinnamon

Nutmeg or allspice

Ginger

Allspice, cardamom, mace, or nutmeg

Chicken Bouquet

Marjoram

Basil, oregano, or thyme

1 bay leaf

Rosemary

Thyme or tarragon

1 tablespoon tarragon

Sage

Marjoram or rosemary

1 tablespoon parsley

Tarragon

Chervil

Thyme

Basil, marjoram, or oregano

1 teaspoon rosemary 1 teaspoon thyme

Beef Bouquet 1 teaspoon black peppercorns 2 whole cloves 1 broken bay leaf 2 teaspoons thyme 2 teaspoons marjoram 2 teaspoons savory 1 tablespoon parsley 1

⁄ 2 teaspoon crushed lovage leaves

Fish Bouquet 1 bay leaf 2 black peppercorns 1 teaspoon thyme 1 teaspoon fennel weed 1 teaspoon crushed lovage leaves Copyright © 2009 by Yankee Publishing Inc.

1 tablespoon parsley

Guide to Spices & Herbs in the Kitchen

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