Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spice Things Up

Ever wondered what to do with the and herbs you use regularly, so you don't have to search through dozens of jars to find the one you want?

Gourmet Fusion has the answer with these cute little mini spice canisters, each with an airtight colorful acrylic lid, and a mini spoon that slots neatly into the side when not in use. They can be found online as a set of four, or you can find them in our Solana Beach store at the Leaping Lotus. They also make a great for someone who likes to cook, or a host or hostess gift.

Spices are derived from aromatic seeds, berries, buds, roots, or barks, and they are used to enliven many dishes. Here are just a few of the common ones.

This sweet Caribbean spice, sold ground or as whole dried berries, gets its name because its flavor resembles a blend of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.

Cayenne Pepper
Finely ground from the dried cayenne chile, this orange-red powdered seasoning delivers a spicy-hot accent.

One of the most popular sweet-hot spices, cinnamon is the aromatic bark of a type of evergreen tree, sold ground or in long, thin curls (cinnamon sticks).

Native to Southeast Asia, these dried flower buds of an evergreen tree have highly aromatic flavor. They are used whole or ground in both sweet and savory recipes.

The small, spicy-sweet seeds of the coriander plant, also the source of the herb known as fresh cilantro or Chinese parsley.

Sold either as whole seeds or ground into a pale brown powder, cumin is popular in Middle Eastern, Indian, and Mexican recipes for its strong, dusky flavor and aroma.

This popular baking spice is ground from the hard fruit pit of the nutmeg tree. For the best flavor, grate the nutmeg as needed.

Made from the dried paprika pepper, his powdered spice is available in sweet, mild, and hot forms. Hungarian and Spanish paprikas are both available.

Red Pepper Flakes
The coarsely crushed flesh and seeds of dried hot red chile. This seasoning adds a touch of fire to sauces and marinades, but use carefully - they add more heat than you expect!

Saffron Threads
It takes the hairlike stigmas from many thousands of blossoms of a variety of crocus to yield one pound of this golden, richly perfumed spice, making it one of the world's most expensive. Use just a pinch of saffron to impart a bright, sunny yellow color and wonderful aroma to a dish. Saffron threads are best, as saffron that has been ground loses its flavor more quickly.

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