things are getting a bit spicy, AGAIN…

So tonight I thought lets talk again about some more herbs and spices… here we go AGAIN…

I am not a lover of pepper, however if the need arises, I reach for whole peppercorns. Adding to marinades simmering over a low heat brings out a delicate spiciness, as well as when mascerating certain fruits in balsamic vinegar. I have a dedicated grinder that I use for spices and peppercorns stay fresher for longer when they are whole [like many spices]…

Fresh thyme is one herb that you will always find in my garden! This gives a slight earthiness to a dish and marries beautifully with many meats. These little sprigs of beauty are added into many marinades, rubs, stews, soups and braises. I add them for freshness to eggs with a touch of sea salt.

Speaking of sea salt, this is one item I could never be without! I love the texture and delicate presentation that just a few flakes offer. I use this to finish off ice creams [yes, but don’t knock it till you’ve tried it], chocolates, dessert pies, meats, homemade chips [sweet potato and regular potato], as well as a host of other dishes.

Another wonderful and fantastic spice is cumin. I buy both seeds and powders. Here I have a shot of the powder version. This spice is used frequently when I make chili or curry dishes, and provides an earthy element. There have been some stew recipes that I have made that call for cumin powder as well.

I use cocoa powder in a variety of ways other than baking, I know who knew! It’s fantastic when added to chili, meats that are being braised, etc. It just brings out a wonderful note to these dishes. Of course I use cocoa powder in baking, and one of my favorites is a spicy, hot chocolate. Thick and rich, this hot chocolate breaks all the rules!

Crushed red pepper flakes are one of my most beloved items in my kitchen! I use this little spicy devil in almost everything I make. There is very few dishes that I don’t include red pepper in! It gives just the perfect amount of heat to pastas, meats, fish and my favorite… broccoli rabe!

To ward off vampires, onto my next fave… garlic!! This wonderful spicy and pungent herb has a variety of uses. I love to make bruschetta, guacamole, a simple linguine with oil and you guessed it… GARLIC, add into dry rubs and marinades and even eat raw… hey you’re not kissing me!

Lastly, fresh basil leaves. These green leaves come in so many varieties and offer a sweet licorice flavor to anything they pair with. I love growing them in my kitchen window during the cold and harsh winter months, but bask in their glory as they blossom in my garden in the summer. I enjoy making pestos, add into tomato sauce, dipping sauces and just eating a leaf with a piece of fresh mozzarella and tomato.

I hope you enjoyed my second spice and herb overview. If you haven’t read my first spice and herb overview, check my previous post from February 3rd titled “Let’s spice things up!”

Would love to hear what other uses everyone has for these items! Please share.

at a low simmer…

-R

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