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Herbs and Spices

Mortar and Pestle with Herbs and Spices

Herbs and Spices are added to a dish to enhance flavor. I have gathered several of the common spices and herbs used in most kitchens every day. Their flavor and fragrance help us experience a pleasant surprise every time. A good way for fresh herbs to last longer is to keep them wrapped in a moist paper towel in a Ziploc bag in the refrigerator.

Anise – is a spice that is used in both cooking and baking. Anise leaves are a great addition to fresh fruit salads. The seeds – aniseed – go well in cakes, cookies, and pastries.

Basil – is one of the best herbs you can add to mushrooms, tomatoes and pasta dishes. Whether dried or fresh, when basil is added to a dish and cooked, the flavor intensifies and creates an aroma that lingers on the palette. Fresh leaves are great in green salads and vinegar dressings.

Bay (Bay Leaves) – is part of the perfect “bouquet garni.” It gives stews, meat, soup, and vegetables a wonderful flavor when added. When making stock, always add a few leaves for added flavor. Don’t forget to remove the leaf/leaves prior to serving your dish.

Chervil – is great in salads, soups, meat and steamed vegetables. It goes well with other herbs mixture and makes a beautiful garnish.

Chives – has a mild onion flavor and is great in eggs. This herb goes well with everything and you can even add it to your butter or cream cheese mixture. Add it to marinate, meat, vegetable, and soups. It is also used as a garnish for many dishes.

Cilantro – is very strong in flavor. It is mostly used as a garnish. If parsley is not available, add cilantro only at the end of the dish or use a small amount in marinades. The taste can be somewhat overwhelming.

Cinnamon – is used in baked goods, sweet food, and beverages. In powder form or stick, it provides a great flavor. Add to boiling water during the winter for a perfect home fragrance.

Cloves – is used in both sweet and savory dishes. Like any woody spice, it has an immense and bold flavor. Use with moderation.

Coriander – is added to several spice mixtures. This spice is great in vegetable and when the seeds are ground they add a great nutty flavor. This spice also adds a wonderful surprising flavor to cakes and cookies.

Cumin – is a very common spice that adds a great flavor to meat, root and green vegetables. It is best to grind the seeds for a more enhanced flavor.

Dill – goes well with fish. Chopped dill goes great with raw vegetable salads and certain dips. It is also used as a garnish.

Fennel – is the well-known fish herb. It is widely used in sauces, salads, and mayonnaise.

Garlic – is a pungent spice that many love and hate. When roasted, the flavor is so great that the smoothness makes you forget the pungent taste. It is great in meat, vegetables, soups and grain dishes. It is best to chop or crush the cloves to form a paste. Fresh garlic is excellent in dishes.

Ginger – is popular is baking. Sliced or chopped it provides spiciness to any dish.

Marjoram – is sweeter than oregano. It can be substituted for oregano as they both have a similar flavor.

Mint – is used in both sweet and savory dishes. Its menthol flavor adds sparkles and definition to lamb and sauces. And also use as garnish.

Nutmeg – is used to flavor beverages, sweet and savory dishes.

Oregano – is the spice for all pizzas. Dried or fresh, there is always the need for a distinctive flavor for a great pizza.

Parsley – is a wonderful herb for cooking and garnish. Curly and flat leaf, both have a mild flavor. Great in marinades when mixed with garlic and chives.

Rosemary – is very aromatic and has an intense flavor as well. Great with chicken and lamb, it adds an earthiness flavor that is tolerable. When used with other herbs make sure you use less as it is very overpowering.

Sage – has a very strong flavor. This herb is great for poultry and pork.

Tarragon – is very versatile. It is great with poultry and fish. It adds flavor to egg and cheese dishes.

Thyme – is very versatile and is great in savory dishes.

Herbes de Provence – is a mixture of fresh or dried herbs. Equal parts of thyme, bay, basil, rosemary and a blend of savory (sage, fennel seeds, and aniseed)

Bouquet Garni – is made with parsley, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves secured with the green part of a leek and tied with string.

All the above spices or herbs have their own specific flavor as well as certain health benefits. Make sure you do your research and consult your physician before using any of the above as medicine.