Friday, January 21, 2011

What skeleton is lurking in your spice drawer?

Hello there again. I am reasoning with myself a little here tonight. I could come across as a little to excited to be blogging at 10:30 at night. Especially about your spice drawers, but seriously. Throw out that stale old salad mix that's harder than a hockey puck and let's all get cracklin' about spices and condiments that can change the way you cook
Yesterday my 75 dollar 500sek package arrived from I fell head over hills for the opportunity  to buy so many awesome things. It all started with my new issue of Elle Mat och Vin that gets  nicely delivered quarterly to my red post box. Inside one of it's lovely pages was this most interesting recipe that featured a spice called baharat. I was intrigued I wanted to know what kind of website would carry a spice so intriguing that I would discover this new friend of mine called kryddlandet.

Baharat is a middle eastern spice that has spices that we everyday people use all the time. Just not all together at the same time. I found it to be quite lovely in fact. It has essence of cardamom, white pepper,.cinnamon,nutmeg and so forth. A mixture of spice and depth of rich earthy tones.  Try it in a tagine or a chicken stew laced with lentils, dried fruits and pomegranate.


1/2 tsp.cardamom
1 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp.nutmeg
1 tsp. ginger
2tsp. cloves
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. allspice

Thanks to Elle Mat och Vin for the inspiration for this blog post.

Now let's start cleaning out those dusty, oily drawers and organize our next cooking experience. Okay, so we have all been there. We might have mother's who have sparked our spice obsession,no names, no names!! Really. When was the last time you checked the best before date on those jars of spices, seasoning salts and peppers? Is it really so important to keep that jar of hodge podge lemon pepper with b.b.q salt that you just had to buy while on holiday 10 years ago?

Hold on to that vacation memory and throw the damn stuff out! Now what we need is to think about all the spices that an everyday cook should always have on hand. Cinnamon, nutmeg,ground ginger,a selection of good sea salt which is much better for the old ticker than regular table salt. Maybe a tad more expensive, but really can you put a price tag on your health?
A good grinding pepper, pink pepper or even green pepper corns add a depth to a meal like nobody's business. Garlic powder not salt, onion powder,fennel seeds, celery seeds, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, great in baking and cooking.A good grill seasoning. High in flavor low in sodium and no MSG. There is plenty on the market just read the labels.

Now let's talk about bouillon those lovely little cubes and powders of dehydrated vegetables, meats and fish. High in saturated fats and how good can anything be that has to be dried, ground,and dehydrated anyways? Let's think about another option. How about making our own. What, no you don't say bullion, but how and why?
It's a fabulous 10 minutes of the day that will change your soups, stews,sauces into a adventure in your mouth.

I am a new follower to this idea, and I must admit, if it was not for Hedi at 101 Cookbooks I do not think I would of even thought about it. I of course did all my shopping in glee of what I was about to whip up in my mix master.. I followed her idea to an extent, but my goat, the vegetarian does not really care for celery, so I had to come up with a little twist. It is so easy and literally you can add what ever veggies you desire, any combination but this is a pure vegetarian and it should have at least the mire pox celery, carrots and onion.

Sea salt and a lot of it is also the second biggest ingredient. It allows your veggie mix to stay in the freezer not completely frozen and you can take out a teaspoon or so at a time and not have to worry about chipping away at a block of puree. I used sun dried tomatoes,carrot, celery(sorry Kim) shallots, garlic,flat leaf parsley,, basil, cilantro, fennel bulbs. Blitzed it in the machine stirred in the sea salt and put in my twist top container and into the freezer it goes. The rule of thumb is that you use 1 teaspoon to every one cup of water. It is pretty salty, so make sure you tap it up with water or use a little to start and go from there.

Here is my version of vegetable bouillon
2 sticks of celery chopped
2 fennel bulbs clean and cored and chopped up.
3 large carrots cleaned and prepared  tips and heads removed
handful of sun-dried tomatoes not in oil
6 medium shallots or two large onions of various colors and flavors peeled and chopped roughly
a generous handful or two of  fresh basil, cilantro,flat leaf parsley or any combination of fresh herbs you desire. Grated lemon peal would be amazing..mums...
One cup of sea salt
8 cloves of garlic peeled
The wow of any soup,stew,sauce. I swear just awesome.
1 leek cleaned and trimmed and chopped

I added the carrots and leek together and made sure they where all grounded down first, then added the shallots and garlic. I scraped  down the sides and added the sun dried tomatoes and celery, fennel and all the herbs. You might have to empty your mixer a couple of times until everything is pureed into a fine but still little bit chunky puree. I poured mine out into a big bowl and stirred in the sea salt and but it in the freezable container and there you have it homemade bouillon for months to come. Let me know if you come up with your own interesting mixes. Would be glad to learn from my readers as well.Get cracking and go take a trip to your local grocery store and spend a little time getting to know the spices in those racks. oh, wait, what about fresh herbs, oils, dried herbs?? Oh, another day. Cheerio...

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