Saturday, July 19, 2008

Spices and herbs

Spices and Herbs

  • Allspice is the dried, unripened fruit of a small evergreen tree, the Pimenta Dioica.
  • Anise is the flavor that give licorice its distinctive taste.
  • Basil comes in several varieties, including sweet and lemon.
  • Bay leaves are often put into a savory dish for flavor, but not eaten.
  • Black Pepper is one of the most commonly used spices in the world.
  • Caraway seeds are said to taste like a cross between dill and anise.
  • Cardamom is common in Danish pastries and many North African and Asian dishes.
  • Celery seed comes from a plant that is related to the celery plant we commonly use in dishes.
  • Chervil is frequently used in French and European cuisine, generally for savory dishes.
  • Chives taste like a mild and crispy green onion, but they can also be used dried.
  • Cilantro is a leafy plant related to parsley that is a common ingredient in Mexican and Asian cooking.
  • Cinnamon graces many western desserts and candies. It is also thought to be a very healthy spice.
  • Cloves come from little flowerettes, and get their name from the French who thought they looked like nails.
  • Coriander comes from the seed of the cilantro plant.
  • Cumin is a spice that is a common ingredient in chili powder.
  • Dill can often be found flavoring pickles.
  • Though once native only to the Mediterranean, fennel is grown over much of the world. It is valued for its seeds.
  • Ginger comes from a root and is often classed as both an herb and a spice. It is a vital ingredient in pumpkin pie.
  • Mace comes from the same plant that produces nutmeg and can be used as a substitute in the absence of nutmeg.
  • Marjoram is a species of oregano, but has a milder, sweeter flavor.
  • Mint is a leafy perennial that finds its way mainly into sweet dishes.
  • Mustard comes from the seed of a bush and is often made into a sauce.
  • Nutmeg is a popular spice for sweet desserts.
  • Oregano was an import to the United States from Italy after the United States fought the Germans over the mountainous country-side in World War II.
  • Paprika is made from dried and crushed sweet red peppers.
  • Parsley is a ubiquitous herb and is often used as a garnish.
  • Poppy Seeds come from the seed of the poppy flower. They are often used on rolls and lemon cakes and muffins.
  • Red Pepper is made from dried and crushed hot peppers.
  • Rosemary is the leaf of a small evergreen shrub. It is often used to spice chicken and other fowl.
  • Saffron is the dried yellow stigmas of a crocus plant. Harvesting of this spice is very labor intensive making it expensive.
  • The sage that we use as a spice is not the same as the sage that is found in the American west. It is only a distant cousin.
  • Savory has a peppery flavor and blends well with other spices.
  • Legend had it that tarragon could heal the bites of dragons.
  • Thyme comes from the mint family. It is often used in chicken and fish dishes.
  • Turmeric is a bright yellow spice and is a common and distinctive ingredient in curry.
  • Vanilla has only recently been considered a bland spice. It is a common flavoring in many products and dishes from ice cream to tapioca pudding.

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