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Posts Tagged ‘Adult Indulgences Spice and Herb Blog’

I’m here, but for how long I’m not sure.  First craft fair of the season and it was slowwwwwww.  Ah, but there are more to come!  It always looks up the closer to Christmas we get.  I just love this time of year.  Enough of this for now, let’s head to my favorite sauce–Bechamel!  Oh, excuse you!

Start by making a White Roux.  Now, this is not book learning you will be getting from me, but experience.  I DO use butter as my fat source–REAL BUTTER folks.  I take a pan, put in about 4-5 tablespoons of butter and heat it up on medium high heat.  When fat thins I add 6-7 tablespoons of flour and whisk briskly until the mixture begins to thin and bubble.  I then turn the heat to low and reduce the amount of whisking I do until I smell a toasty aroma arising from the roux. I usually let it cook for about 1-2 minutes more (don’t let it brown) and then remove it and set it aside.  For what follows you will need 4-6 tablespoons of this roux.

In a separate pot, heat up about one quart of milk (I use whole milk to get the smoothest blend) until it is SIMMERING.  Add the roux to the milk and whisk until the two come together smoothly, simmering while doing so.  Add salt to taste and two pinches of nutmeg.  I don’t like to taste the nutmeg as an “ingredient,” I just use it to add depth of flavor.  I also add a pinch of powdered white pepper and 1/4 of a yellow onion, peeled and sliced (not to small–what you want is the flavor).  I will sometimes also add a bay leaf and bit of vanilla bean, etc, depending on what I’m using the sauce for.  For now, just add the onion and one bay leaf (along with the nutmeg).  Simmer for about 20 minutes, adding more whole milk if the sauce thickens to quickly.  When done pour through a sieve and viola–BECHAMEL!  

Although this is a very BASIC Bechamel Sauce, you can do a lot with it. 

1.  You can throw in some Parmesan, Romano or both (grated please, 6-8 oz. please) into the sauce, melt it and pour it over some pasta.  Delicious. 

2.  You can make it into a heavy cream sauce by adding about 4-8 ounces of heated, heavy cream along with your favorite spices from Adult Indulgences, Wickedly Delicious Custom Spice Blends (http://www.adultindulgences.etsy.com), such as Tuscan Sun, Sicilian Prince, or even Oh India!  Again, great on pasta, baked chicken, etc.

3.  You can stir in 4 ounces of Gruyère (an incredible cheese indeed) and 2 oz. of Parmesan (grated) until melted.  Then remove from heat and add in 2 oz. of butter.  Stir well.  Again, this goes well with pasta, chicken, etc.  This is known in the field as a Mornay Sauce.

4.  And, you can make my husband’s favorite….Cheddar Cheese Sauce.  Add 8-9 oz. of cheddar cheese (grated please), 1/2 tsp of dry mustard, and two tbls of Worcestershire sauce.  Place all ingredients into warm Bechamel and heat until melted.  Pour over pasta and just die!

Really, you can put just about anything into a Bechamel sauce.  That is what makes it so very cool.  An easy way to make a fantastic sauce that you can use for virtually everything!  It can be dainty or robust.  You choose!  But, I make my Bechamel Sauces just how I like my men….robust and naughty!

Photo Courtesy of:  http://www.independent.co.uk/multimedia/archive/00284/Mr_January__Peter_L_284932t.jpg

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Oh, yes!  This is one Cambodian (Khmer) sauce you won’t be able to live without.  I kid you not!!!  I love a great, flaky white fish, broiled and placed on top of a bed of aromatic Jasmine rice.  Here is the best part, I don’t dip… I pour a line of Ginger sauce down the middle of it all, sit back in the silence broken only by the melody of the aromas and delicately roll my meal in my mouth–bite per bite.  Ummmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Photo courtesy of:  http://www.khatiya-korner.com/images/food/fishsauce_dipping.jpg

 

Ginger Fish Dipping Sauce

Ingredients: 

1-3 hot chili peppers, finely minced.  Remember, heat is optional!  Use none or a little or all three.  It is up to you. 

2  1/2 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced

1/3 cup fresh ginger, finely grated

1/4 cup raw cane sugar, powdered

1/4 cup fish sauce (make your own or commercial is fine)

1/4 cup hot water

2 fresh limes, juiced (about 1/4 cup fresh lime juice)

Preparation:

Place all ingredients in a small, glass sauce pan.  I ALWAYS let this recipe sit in the fridge for 24 hours before using.  I remove it from the fridge and heat it gently and serve.  You may be asking why I use a glass sauce pan.  Well, it is simply this:  lime juice and ginger can be quite acidic and I never place acidic elements (tomato, lime, lemon, etc.) in a metal pan.  Believe it or not the metal can be corroded quickly and spoil the fresh taste of whatever you are cooking!

Hope all of you have enjoyed a brief visit to Khmer cooking.  I just want to tease you all a bit with what will be coming soon…..MOTHER SAUCES.   With a limited number of base sauces you can create endless and wondrous sauces for any and every dish.  It’s time to get creative with Mother Sauces.  And, a big thank you to the wonderful reader who recommended lessons on Mother Sauces two months ago.  Finally, I can meet your desires.  Stay tuned……..

 

 

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I know, I deserve a spanking.  Speaking of which, where is Dougray Scott when you need the little bugger.  Of course, I could be punished even more…………….. 

Photo Courtesy of:  http://stars.hitflip.de/Dougray_Scott_HF_L_2_58493_24101.gif

A special treat for those of you who didn’t know who Dougray Scott was.  I know, I should wish for a lot more than a spanking.  It’s those darn lips I tell you.  What was God thinking when he made them!  Didn’t he know women would swoon and dream of being locked in their deep embrace for days on end?  I’m sure he did.  Just one more part of our torture of living a mortal life.   I have to admit, I’m not one for a lot of temptation (I’m just not tempted by much but great spices, herbs and food), but I will say, to all the world, I’d give it up to have a go at Dougray Scott.  Sigh.  Must pull myself away from the photo and get on with my apology.

Where was I.  Oh Yes.  I am sorry for not posting for some time but life is still very busy.  As a means of apology I am offering a great Khmer recipe for Coconut Sauce.  I use it as often as I can and I love it.  Khmer cooking doesn’t shy away from Coconut sauces at all, in fact this is a commonly used sauce in deserts as well as main dishes.  All I can say is that it is simple, delicious, and well, I could do a lot with it if Dougray Scott were in the room with me now.  ; )

Khmer Coconut Sauce

Ingredients

2 cups coconut milk (fresh is best, but canned is fine as well)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preparation

Mix all ingredients together in a small sauce pan.  Heat and allow to simmer, stirring regularly, until sauce thickens.  It’s ready to go!  Hot or Cold.  Day or Night.  I love this on vanilla ice cream, sponge cake, and it is wonderful on rice, fish, light chicken dishes, etc.  Just let your imagination roll along with this one!!!

Well, my apology should allow you to have many wonderful and flavorful meals.  Oh, and the picture of Dougray Scott should allow you many a delightful fantasy.  Eat well my friends!

Photo Courtesy of:  http://www.ruggedelegantliving.com/a/images/Dougray.Scott.Pro.BWImage.jpg

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If you remember, and I barely do, that our last post dealt with an incredible Khmer curry paste recipe, then you will also remember my promise to post an incredible Khmer Curried Chicken recipe.  Well, there it is.  You’ll want to make sure your spice paste mix is ready to go.  Just check my last couple of posts and follow the directions and your paste will be ready.  I must say this chicken recipe is so delicious that you’ll want to place a table outside in the evening, light many candles or hanging lights in the bushes and trees around you and place a delicate and soft Cambodian CD on the stereo and relax and take your time to enjoy your company and your food.  Linger, talk softy, chew as long as you can and just let your palate and your olfactory sensors baste in the pleasure of this incredible dish from a beautiful and incredible country.

Khmer Curried Chicken (Using Khmer Curry Paste)

Ingredients

3 tablespoons Unflavored oil (corn or vegetable oil will work fine here) 

1 pound chicken breasts (cut in 1/4 slices).  The easiest way to do this is place the chicken in the freezer until it begins to freeze.  When it is lightly firm, remove it and it should slice in a lovely way)

1-2 tablespoons unprocessed, cane sugar

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 carrot sliced extremely thin (I use a slicer to ensure overall slice thinness)

1 potato, chopped into 1/2″ squares

1 medium sweet potato, chopped into 1/2″ squares

1 medium onion (sliced very thin)

1 cup unseasoned chicken broth (freshly made)

Salt to taste

5 cups teamed rice

4 saffron strands

1/16 teaspoon turmeric powder

Preparation

Place enough rice and water in a steamer to make 5 cups.  Add 4 saffron strands and 1/16 turmeric tsp. turmeric powder.  Turn on steamer and let rice cook.

Heat oil in a wok until hot.  Fry , stirring constantly, 2 Tablespoons of Khmer Curry Paste for one minute.  Add sliced chicken breast.  Stir for 2 minutes.  Turn down to medium heat.  Add 1-2 tablespoons of sugar and stir well.  Cook chicken until done.  Toss in vegetables   and stir.  Stir gently for another minute and then add 1/2 cup coconut milk, salt to taste and fresh chicken broth.  Heat through.

Serve over the steamed rice and truly enjoy.

As a note I would like to add that some folks do like more curry paste in their recipe.  If you find you would enjoy more paste, add more the next time.  This is a better strategy that adding much too much spice early on and ruining a recipe.  On that note…………………………………………drift way to Cambodia.

 

Photo Courtesy of:  http://www.images-photography-pictures.net/Angkor-Wat-Cambodia-sunset-zrim.jpg

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Now this is one post I will enjoy.  Not just because I love Antonio Banderas (which I do), but because of the passionate herbs and spices used to make some of the most delicious meals in the world!  To whet your appetite, my friends, I offer one such passionate export from Spain.  Spiciness is in his soul and oh what a lovely exterior covers that soul!

Photo Compliments of:  http://imstars.aufeminin.com/stars/fan/antonio-banderas/

Ah, the lights are low, Lisa Gerrard on the CD and I am ready to post.  Although herbs and spice use is a must in Spanish cooking, we need to understand that subtlety is the key to Spanish cuisine.  Most Spanish dishes are well spiced with just a gentle hint of flavoring that marries the ingredients into incredible works of art.  For centuries, the Spaniards have used home-grown as well as imported spices in their cooking.  As with my other posts, I will briefly outline the major spices used in Spanish cooking.

1.  Parsley.  Parsley is the most commonly used spice in all Spanish cooking.  It is used as garnish, coloring, and tasteful herb.

2.  Paprika.  Paprika can be spicy or sweet and is often used as a colorants in Spanish cooking.

3.  Vanilla.  Surely Vanilla will be found in nearly every Spanish home.  It is a common ingredient in the sweet dishes of Spain.

4.  Cayenne.  Cayenne comes in two varieties:  hot and sweet.  Both are used often in Spanish cuisine.

5.  Pepper.

6.  Bay Leaf.  This bittersweet herb is used in many cooking many dishes to add that little extra “something.”  The entire leaf is then removed from the dish before serving.

7.  Mint.  Some have said that aside from Parsley, Mint is the next most popular flavor in Spanish cooking. 

8.  Garlic.  Like Parsley and Mint, there is rarely a home or Spanish dish that is without this aromatic flavoring.

9.  Tarragon. 

10.  Nutmeg. 

11.  Cloves.

12.  Cinnamon

13.  Saffron.  As we all now, what is Spain (or its cuisine) without Saffron.  In fact in Consuegra there is a Saffron Festival every year where competitions of all sorts are held, including Saffron separation (the yellow from the flower that makes the sweet, strong scent of Saffron).

14.  Basil.  Basil is used in Spanish cuisine, but not nearly as commonly as it is in the rest of the Mediterranean.

15.  Thyme. 

16.  Rosemary.

17.  Sage.

18.  Oregano.

This brief introduction to Spanish herbs and spices should whet your appetite for my next post:  a beautiful and simple blend of herbs and spices to use in Spanish Paella, one of my most favorite dishes. 

Photo Complements of:  http://blognitivedissonance.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/08/paella.jpg

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