Let’s spice things up!

I thought since I normally talk about what was cooked or eaten for dinner, tonight would be a little different. Here are some spices that I find in my opinion a necessity in every kitchen. Yes some are pricey and might not be utilized that frequently, however these do come in handy to have around. I will be honest, I am not a huge fan of ground spices since I feel they lose their integrity and potential after sitting on a shelf for long periods of time. I am a BIG fan of toasting spices [ie. whole seeds] which is a wonderful way to bring out the flavors and just grind when needed! I use a coffee grinder that I dedicate specifically to spices… last thing you want your coffee tasting like is coriander or pepper!
A staple in my cooking is bay leaves; these little guys offer a lovely, mild flavor and I use them often when making anything that I braise [ie. short ribs] and especially in chicken soup when colds are flowing around the house…
Vanilla bean is a pricey element to have in your pantry, however is something that shockingly is used more than you would think. I love to make custards, ice creams and also add to creme fraiche with honey as a dessert. Also if you have patience, you can actually make your own vanilla [liquid form that is] using the pods and vodka. It’s a time consuming [and very expensive] process, but amazing to do!
Saffron… the most expensive spice in the world can last a good while. A slight addition of this spice goes a very long way so a pinch will do just fine!! I use saffron when making paella, as well as risotto and some rice dishes.
Fennel seed is another spice I use when braising, as well as for dry rubs. There is an anise flavor that is expelled when this spice hits your senses, not to mention taste buds.
Smoked paprika is a wonderful, smokey spice that I use when making different pork recipes, shrimp dishes and Spanish-style meals [ie. tapas-style].
Dried oregano is one major exception I make when it comes to dried herbs… I am not a fan of fresh oregano as I feel the flavor is extremely overpowering. For me this herb is used to accent oils and garlic breads, and occasionally I add this to dishes that need that slight earthiness to cut into the gaminess.
Another interesting spice, Turmeric is used whenever I make curry dishes. The spice creates a vibrant color to any dish!
Lastly for this spice board, would be Cardamom seed! This little green jewel harbors seeds inside a soft exterior shell. Once broken open and revealed, I toast the seeds, pulse them and add them into some of my dishes. Also just toasting the seeds and adding them into rice dishes adds unbelievable flavor! A favorite is into simple basmati rice. The flavor bump is just heavenly.
Hope you enjoyed a look into some spices I think everyone should have in their kitchen. I look forward to sharing another spice selection in the near future!

at a low simmer…
-R

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